Tuesday afternoon I got a call from my mom telling me that there was a fire at the ranch. Her voice was all I needed to hear to know that it wasn’t good and that they had no idea if their homes, business and escape route were about to go up in flames.
Montana is experiencing the same drought most of the west is having and everything was crispy dry when we were there in July when the norm is lush and green. It was dry to the point that the annual 4th of July fireworks that my step brother puts on (and that rivals most municipal fireworks show) had to be canceled. And now hearing how quickly a small fire in a tree went to structure and life threatening in under 10 minutes, it was a good decision.
Because of the rural location, fire support is hard to come by – or is unconventional to say the least. A neighbor has a water truck, but if the neighbor doesn’t answer the phone, there’s no water truck. The closest fire department is a half hour away and the forest service has to scramble helicopters to come to the rescue. Thankfully the ranch boarders Yellowstone National Park and sits on an 80 acre lake so once help arrived, they were able to gain control of the situation.
This is a picture from last summer of the Paradise Valley
And this is a picture of from the height of the fire yesterday – you can see how yellow the grass is.
Thankful for the forest service and the three available slurry bombers – this picture is about 50 yards from the parent’s deck
The aftermath. The estimate was about 100 acres burned. The sad part is that it will take close to a decade for this to become lush and green again.
I think it’s safe to say that the family is feeling blessed that this wasn’t worse, but sad that it happened at all.