Is an extreme fire season the 'new normal' in Montana? - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Is an extreme fire season the 'new normal' in Montana?

Posted: Updated:
BOZEMAN -

More than 1,000,000 acres have burned this summer, in what is proving to be one of the most ferocious seasons in Montana’s history.

But is a long season full of huge fires the new normal?

Mike Granger is the State Fire Management Officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has decades of experience in firefighting and managing fires in different parts of the country.

Granger started in Montana in 1991, and says the 2017 season is shaping up to be one of the worst he’s seen since 2000.

"I've never seen a year where we've had so many large fires, that we haven't been able to get them out,” Granger said Tuesday in a phone interview from the Lolo Peak Complex Fire, where he has been working for eight days.

“I've been on several of those fires this year and putting those fires out is extremely difficult and they continue to get larger and larger in spite of or efforts and in spite of what we're doing to try to put them out."

As of Wednesday evening, 1,032,801 acres have burned according to the Northern Rockies Coordination Center.

This makes it the third largest fire season in the last 15 years, based on statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center.

In 2006; 1,047,323 acres burned and in 2012; 1.2 million acres burned, making 2012 the largest season since the Great Fire of 1910, which burned 3 million acres and killed 86 people, 78 of whom were firefighters.

But in calculating what makes a fire season the “worst” Granger says it’s more than just a numbers game.

"I look at what is the impact upon the citizens of our state, what is the impact upon the people coming in to enjoy the natural beauty of our state, the people that live here and that have lost their homes, the people that have lost their livelihoods,” Granger said.

“There are a lot of other inputs that go in to a number than how many acres have burned in the Northern Rockies in any single years."

Granger’s point is echoed by some of the most notable fires in Montana’s history.

The Mann Gulch Fire of 1949 burned only 4,500 acres, but claimed the lives of 13 firefighters, making it one of the most notorious in history.

The Yellowstone Fires of 1988 burned 793,880 acres—a huge number, but more significant was the impact it had on fire management in national parks.

Granger says the last 100 years of fire management have been based on fire suppression allowing forests to overgrow. But as Granger says “Mother Nature always bats last” and forest fires are inevitable.

"This is a very extreme fire season. Will we have fire seasons like this in the future? Yes. Will they be like this every year? I doubt it. But will they become more frequent these extreme fire seasons? They could very well be."

  • Most Popular

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • UPDATE: Man in custody for fatal Bozeman stabbing

    Man in custody for fatal Bozeman stabbing

    Tuesday, November 21 2017 11:41 PM EST2017-11-22 04:41:49 GMT

    A man is in custody as Bozeman police investigate a homicide. Bozeman police say it's no longer an active scene and more details will be released soon. The crime occurred at 9th and Durston. 

    A man is in custody as Bozeman police investigate a homicide. Bozeman police say it's no longer an active scene and more details will be released soon. The crime occurred at 9th and Durston. 

  • New, seasonal non-stop flights from Missoula to LA

    New, seasonal non-stop flights from Missoula to LA

    Tuesday, November 21 2017 1:21 PM EST2017-11-21 18:21:22 GMT

    Courtesy United Airlines and Missoula International Airport United Airlines and Missoula International Airport announce the addition of new seasonal daily non-stop service from Missoula International Airport (MSO) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). 

    Courtesy United Airlines and Missoula International Airport United Airlines and Missoula International Airport announce the addition of new seasonal daily non-stop service from Missoula International Airport (MSO) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). 

  • Vend Introduces Dott, the AI Partner for Retail

    Vend Introduces Dott, the AI Partner for Retail

    Today, global point-of-sale and retail management software firm Vend launches Dott, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool for retail stores and part of the new Vend Platform. As part of a major platform refresh in...
    Today, global point-of-sale and retail management software firm Vend launches Dott, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool for retail stores and part of the new Vend Platform. As part of a major platform refresh in Vend, Dott...
  • Our Apologies

    The page you requested is currently unavailable. Pages on this site are constantly being revised, updated, and occasionally removed. You may have followed an outdated link or have outdated pages in your

    You have reached a page which is currently unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please use your browser's BACK button to return to the previous page

  • 'I Think Clay Lost Control' Juror #3 Speaks Out About The Clay Starbuck Trial

    'I Think Clay Lost Control' Juror #3 Speaks Out About The Clay Starbuck Trial

    Tuesday, November 22 2016 11:20 AM EST2016-11-22 16:20:44 GMT
    KHQ's Dylan Wohlenhaus spoke exclusively to juror #3 in the Clay Starbuck trial on Friday afternoon. The female juror was one of the 7 women & 5 men of the jury. She asked not to be identified.
    KHQ's Dylan Wohlenhaus spoke exclusively to juror #3 in the Clay Starbuck trial on Friday afternoon. The female juror was one of the 7 women & 5 men of the jury. She asked not to be identified.
  • Young Missoula singer received national attention as an American Idol contestant

    Young Missoula singer received national attention as an American Idol contestant

    Tuesday, November 21 2017 8:00 PM EST2017-11-22 01:00:24 GMT

    But, unfortunately, Maris found out last night on dancing with the stars that she did not make the cut. Over Facetime on Tuesday, Maris said that she is so honored to have had this opportunity.

    But, unfortunately, Maris found out last night on dancing with the stars that she did not make the cut. Over Facetime on Tuesday, Maris said that she is so honored to have had this opportunity.

  • Girl Scouts warn parents about forcing kids to hug relatives for the holidays

    Girl Scouts warn parents about forcing kids to hug relatives for the holidays

    Tuesday, November 21 2017 10:15 AM EST2017-11-21 15:15:56 GMT

    Ahead of the holiday season, Girl Scouts are asking parents to think twice before forcing your daughters to hug relatives at family gatherings.

    Ahead of the holiday season, Girl Scouts are asking parents to think twice before forcing your daughters to hug relatives at family gatherings.

  • Chanin Starbuck Murder Case To Be On 'Dateline' Nationwide Friday Night

    Chanin Starbuck Murder Case To Be On 'Dateline' Nationwide Friday Night

    Thursday, July 11 2013 9:23 PM EDT2013-07-12 01:23:04 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. – It's a classic show millions of Americans have watched for years and this week "Dateline" heads to the Inland Northwest showcasing a tragic murder that left a mother dead and a father behind bars.
    SPOKANE, Wash. – It's a classic show millions of Americans have watched for years and this week "Dateline" heads to the Inland Northwest showcasing a tragic murder that left a mother dead and a father behind bars. A little more than a month ago a jury convicted Clay Starbuck for the murder of his ex-wife Chanin Starbuck.
Powered by Frankly

Features

  • More Features
  • Powered by WorldNow
    All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 Cowles Montana Media. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.