EXTREME fire danger challenges fire fighters - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

EXTREME fire danger challenges fire fighters

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With hundreds of fires around the state, the Flathead Valley decided to move to “extreme” fire danger.  We spoke with Manuel Mendoza who has been fighting fires for twenty-five years.  He tells the main difference between extreme fires and stage II fires are the fire’s unpredictability and strength.  Mendoza tells us this summer is the driest summer he has ever seen.

Mendoza says, “They are a little more unpredictable you know with the conditions they are these fires can get up and romp and get going very fast so we have to be prepared.”

The fires this year have become so hard to fight Mendoza tells us crews have had to call in local reinforcements.  Local private owners lend their excavators and bulldozers to fire crews.  Mendoza tells us these machines are crucial in firefighting.  Many times bulldozers and excavators aren’t readily available so Mendoza and his crew will have to wait hours or days to get them.  This could mean the difference between a fire that burns a couple of acres or hundreds of acres.

Mendoza explains, “It makes a huge difference just having that you know minutes compared to several hours.  It could mean anything from putting the fire out to having a big fire that goes on for several months.”

While Mendoza is a veteran fire fighter he tells us sending his men to the fire line is still unsettling.

Mendoza tells us, “I've seen it I know what can happen and yeah I take all of my fire fighter's direct responsibility for their safety.”

Mendoza tells us fire managers will often pull their teams off the fire line in order to keep them safe.  Safety is the number one priority.


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