Montana Wildfires: Rain, Snow Help but Won’t End Season

Change in weather brings challenge to fire crews

 

By AMY BETH HANSON, Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Rain snow and cold have replaced heat and smoke after about two dry months on Montana’s fire lines, leaving crews scrambling for extra sleeping bags, heaters, coats and long underwear.

While the change in weather is welcome, it brings its own challenges for crews fighting dozens of fires in drought-stricken Montana.

“The main goal today was to go out and start pulling hose and pumps and things we absolutely didn’t need on the line because it’s going to be below freezing tonight,” said Mike Cole, a spokesman on a fire near Seeley Lake that has burned 243 square miles (631 square kilometers). The blaze led to evacuation orders, a delay to the start of the school year and choked the valley with hazardous air quality for weeks on end.

Another shot of cooler weather forecast to move in Monday could further help button things up, Cole said Friday, but fire season isn’t over.

“When it warms up here,

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