Crews battle Rogers Mountain Lazier fire as it grows - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Crews battle Rogers Mountain Lazier fire as it grows

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Public Affairs Officer Mark Vosburgh says lightning struck dry trees on Saturday, July 8th fueling the Rogers Mountain Lazier fire.  Between July 10th and July 11th, the Rogers Mountain Lazier fire grew by three hundred acres.  Vosburgh along with incident commander John Thompson is shocked at how early the wildfires are starting this season.  Vosburgh and Thompson tell us, usually, Montana sees wildfires starting in August.

Thompson tells us, “At some point in time somebody turned off the faucet that provides us rain and they turned up the thermostat and so it’s been hot and it’s been dry and that’s really making a huge difference right now as to how these fires are behaving.  And I think all of us are seeing more fire behavior than we thought for this time of year.”

While we were at the command center near the fire two helicopters simultaneously flew overhead, constantly refilling their buckets with water.  Vosburgh told us the helicopters would continue this motion for another two hours.

We spoke with Chance Hullet who is a crucial part of the fire team.  Hullet has been driving a dozer for the past five years.  Hullet’s job is to dig trenches to stop the fires from jumping and spreading.  A couple of years ago Hullet had an experience that made him fear for his life, but he tells us his team was there supporting him.

Hullet says, “A couple of years ago, we had to pull out because the fire had kind of taken off, but everybody is on the same page and everyone is watching out for everybody.”

Vosburgh tells us that once these fires are put out, the ground will still be “hot” and smolder for a long time.  Crews will have to keep a close eye on the land.

Fighting these fires isn’t cheap, and crews in Montana are fighting for resources around the country.  Incident Commander Thompson tells us crews can use a quarter of a million to a million dollars a day to fight fires.  Most of the cost comes from fueling the technology crews use to fight the fires.  Thompson tells us he gets his resources from the state. 

Everyone we spoke with today had the same message to relay to the public.  You can do your part to prevent these fires.  Make sure that your campfires are completely put out and you don’t use fireworks.  Sparks and embers can easily spread.   The command center has a website you can visit for updated information on evacuation notices and road closures.

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