Firefighters deploy fire shelters on a wildfire near Bozeman, Montana

Bridger Foothills Fire

September 6, 2020 | 2:03 p.m. MDT

Bridger Foothills Fire map
Bridger Foothills Fire, map current at 9:26 p.m. MDT Sept 5, 2020.

Three firefighters on the Bridger Foothills Fire northeast of Bozeman, Montana were forced to deploy and take refuge in their fire shelters September 5 when their safety became compromised by the proximity of the fire, fire officials said Sunday. After the danger passed they moved to a safety zone and were later treated at Bozeman Health for “smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion” and then released. They are otherwise in good condition and will be rejoining their families as soon as possible.

Fire shelters are small foldable pup tent-like fire resistant devices that a wildland firefighter can unfold and climb into if there is no option for escaping from an approaching inferno. Many firefighters have used the devices successfully, but others have been killed inside them.

The Bridger Foothills Fire is three miles northeast of the intersection of Highway 86 (Bridger Drive) and Interstate 90. Since it was reported September 4 it has burned 7,000 acres, including an unknown number of structures. It exhibited extreme fire behavior Saturday when the passage of a cold front brought sustained winds of 10-20 mph with gusts to 30 mph. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered.

Resources assigned, according to the incident management team, include 6 helicopters, 4 hand crews, plus engines, smokejumpers, and dozers. Sunday’s National Situation Report said there were a total of 99 personnel assigned (but 23 hand crews, which does not make any sense).

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Al.

Suspicious fires in Glacier National Park leave a historic structure destroyed

The Ford Creek Patrol Cabin burned

Ford Creek Patrol Cabin burned arson fire
Ford Creek Patrol Cabin. NPS photo.

In northern Montana Thursday morning seven fires were discovered in Glacier National Park in the North Fork area. Park spokesperson Gina Kerzman said they have all been controlled but the Ford Creek Patrol Cabin built in 1928 which is on the National Register of Historic Places was destroyed.

Due to the suspicious nature of the fires, several investigators are on scene including the FBI and the National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch, which is assisting remotely.

Anyone with information about the fires is urged to call 406-888-7077.

Resources responding to the fires included local county, state, and federal agencies with hotshot crews, engine crews, and law enforcement personnel.

The Ford Creek Patrol Cabin was built in 1928. The rustic log structure was a significant resource both architecturally and historically as part of a network of shelters approximately one day’s travel apart used by patrolling backcountry rangers.

The nomination of the Ford Creek Patrol Cabin to be on the National Register of Historic Places prepared in 1984 included this description:

“In 1928, Glacier National Park appropriated $2,000 for the construction of four identical snowshoe cabins. The Park hired private contractors to erect the buildings since the staff carpenter force was occupied with construction at Belton headquarters. Documents do not indicate the names of the contractors, although invitations to bid were sent to “several good log men in the vicinity.” The Park provided floor shiplap, roofing materials, cement, okem (chinking), cellar planks, windows and doors and their frames, shakes, and hardware. The contractor cleared the site, cut trees marked by the Park Engineer, built the cabin, and cleared the site.

“The project took three weeks and the cost for all materials and labor totaled $350. This cabin is one of many similar structures built in Glacier National Park during the 1920s and 1930s to facilitate the supervision of lands within the park boundaries. The park’s rugged topography and the often rapidly changing weather conditions made it imperative that these cabins be built at strategic points to protect rangers charged with park surveillance. The cabins were usually located 8 to 12 miles from a permanent ranger station. Thus, a park ranger could spend a number of days on patrol duty without returning to the station for supplies or shelter. The Ford Creek patrol cabin is significant because it illustrates an important aspect in the development and administration of Glacier National Park.

“It is a one-story, rectangular log structure with new corrugated metal on a gable roof, a metal stove pipe, and nine log purlins. The wall logs are saddle notched with sapling chinking and square-cut crowns. There is a concrete alignment foundation under the structure and porch posts. The roof extends to a full porch with a tie beam and vertical pole beneath the ends of seven purlins. There are shakes in the gable ends. The door is solid wood and “bear-proofed.” The windows are iron bars woven with barbed wire over six-light, wood frame casements. The structure is in good condition.”

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

TBT: Firefighter’s film-making son invited to the White House

For Throwback Thursday I found a good news story — much needed during these turbulent times. Published March 21, 2015, it feels like it was a thousand years ago:

Noah Gue President Obama
Noah Gue talks with President Obama in the White House. Photo credit, White House.

The six-year-old son of a wildland firefighter was one of 15 filmmakers to be invited to show a video at a film festival at the White House. Noah Gue worked with his father, Michael Gue, a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service in Bozeman, Montana, to make the film to help raise awareness of climate change and inspire conservation. Noah’s parents produced the film in which he is the on-screen narrator. He also got a credit for editing. The film was selected to be shown Friday at the second White House Student Film Festival.

Noah Gue President Obama
Noah Gue high-fives President Obama in the White House. Photo by Jacquelyn Martin.
Noah Gue Hilary Swank
Noah Gue talks with Hilary Swank in the White House. Photo by Jake Rosenberg.

The fact that Noah had a loose front tooth did not escape the notice of President Obama who mentioned it in his opening remarks at the event. Here are some excerpts from the official transcript:

Thank you so much, everybody! Have a seat. Well, hello, everybody, and welcome to the second annual White House Film Festival. (Applause.) It’s like the Sundance or Cannes of film festivals that are open to the public through a government website. (Laughter.) It may also be the only film festival where one of the entrants has his tooth loose. (Laughter.) And may pull it out right here at the ceremony. (Laughter.)

[and later]

…Today, we’re celebrating a 6-year-old in Montana. Is that you? (Applause.) He’s the guy without — he’s missing teeth. (Laughter.) But he’s also challenging us to see conservation through a child’s eyes…

Noah’s father, Michael, is a prolific photographer, as is his wife who is a wedding photographer. We have featured Michael’s fire pictures a couple of times on Wildfire Today, HERE and HERE. His Instagram account has over 7,000 followers…

Congratulations to Noah and Michael!

Numerous USFS permanent firefighter jobs available in several states

U.S. Forest Service Region 1
U.S. Forest Service Region 1

On Monday the U.S. Forest Service advertised numerous permanent firefighter job openings in the agency’s Region 1, Montana, North Dakota, and northern Idaho. Some of the notices say “Job Corps graduates of fire certified programs are encouraged to apply,” which is interesting in that students at USFS Job Corps centers have been sent home due to COVID-19. A massive recruitment beginning just as the wildland fire season starts is unusual.

Some of the announcements are only open for a very brief time.

The information below dated April 27, 2020 was copied from the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest Facebook page:

Region 1 Summer Fire Hire PERMANENT Jobs

Vacancy Number — Title — USAJOBS link:

20-FIRE-UHE-MT-FFTR-34DH Forestry Aid/Forestry Technician (Fire Suppression)

20-FIRE-UHE-ID-FFTR-34DH Forestry Aid/Forestry Technician (Fire Suppression)

20-FIRE-UHE-MT-ENGSRFF-5DH Forestry Technician / Engine Senior Firefighter

20-FIRE-UHE-ID-ENGSRFF-5DH Forestry Technician / Engine Senior Firefighter

20-FIRE-UHE-MT-HSHCSRFF-5DH Forestry Technician (Hotshot/Handcrew)

20-FIRE-UHE-ID-HSHCSRFF-5DH Forestry Technician (Hotshot/Handcrew)

20-FIRE-UHE-MT-AFEO-6DH Lead Forestry Technician (AFEO)

20-FIRE-UHE-ID-AFEO-6DH Lead Forestry Technician (AFEO)

20-FIRE-UHE-MT-HCREW-6DH Lead Forestry Technician (Hotshot/Handcrew)

20-FIRE-UHE-ID-HCREW-6DH Lead Forestry Technician (Hotshot/Handcrew)

20-FIRE-UHE-MT-FEOH-7DH Forestry Technician (FEO)

20-FIRE-UHE-ID-FEOH-7DH Forestry Technician (FEO)

20-FIRE-UHE-MT-HCREWH-7DH Forestry Technician (Handcrew)

20-FIRE-UHE-ID-HCREWH-7DH Forestry Technician (Handcrew)

20-FIRE-UHE-MT-SFEOH-8DH Supervisory Forestry Tech (Fire Engine Op) / SFEO

20-FIRE-UHE-ID-SFEOH-8DH Supervisory Forestry Tech (Fire Engine Op) / SFEO

20-FIRE-UHE-MT-HCREWH-8DH Supervisory Forestry Tech (Handcrew Supervisor) HIGH

20-FIRE-UHE-ID-HCREWH-8DH Supervisory Forestry Tech (Handcrew Supervisor) HIGH

Other areas are also hiring, with very short response dates. Here is another example.

Mendocino National Forest jobs
Mendocino National Forest jobs

Check out

BLM conducts 1,123-acre prescribed fire northeast of Billings, MT

BLM prescribed fire Billings Montana
BLM’s Kendall Coulee South prescribed fire northeast of Billings, MT on April 20, 2020. BLM photo by Colby K. Neal.

Bureau of Land Management firefighters conducted the 1,123-acre Kendall Coulee South prescribed fire northeast of Billings, MT on April 20, 2020.

BLM prescribed fire Billings Montana
BLM’s Kendall Coulee South prescribed fire northeast of Billings, MT on April 20, 2020. BLM photo by Colby K. Neal.

The BLM uploaded the video below, April 22, 2020: “Safely and successfully conducting a prescribed fire requires a great deal of planning and coordination. Addressing the additional health concerns we currently face adds to that challenge. The BLM Montana/Dakotas has developed an approach that is allowing firefighters to continue this important work.”

Missoula science lab assists firefighters

Above: Screenshot from the Missoula Fire Sciences Lab presentation. USFS.

The U.S. Forest Service has produced a fancy “story map” about the science being conducted at the Fire Sciences Lab in Missoula, Montana. I have toured the facility but was not aware of the breadth of the work now being conducted in the Wind Tunnel & Combustion Chamber, Soils Lab, Chemistry & Emissions Lab, Ecophysiology Lab, Tree Ring Lab, and Fuels Lab.

The presentation, which only takes a few minutes to scroll through, is mostly photos with brief descriptions of the work going on in the various departments. With science under attack in recent years, it is heart warming to know that some federal employees in Missoula have our backs.

Missoula Fire Sciences Lab
Screenshot from the Missoula Fire Sciences Lab presentation. USFS.