Our most recent winter here in Montana was unusually mild and we all knew what that meant. We talked about it everywhere; with clients at work, with strangers in line at the grocery store “We really need more snow or we’re going to have horrible fires this summer”. Now here we are at the beginning of September, still experiencing one of our worst fire seasons in recent years. I certainly haven’t seen anything like this in the five years I’ve lived here. I know there are other places that have had much worse fires than ours this year but really when it's the area that you live in and love and people your know being displaced, it's always terrible. Thankfully the towns where I live and work haven’t been touched by fire but many people who live outside of the towns have been evacuated along with many poplar recreational areas. For the last couple weeks, I’ve gone about my regular routine while the air smells like a campfire and the smoke is so thick I can’t see the Bridger Mountains from my house one some days. There have been warnings that it isn’t safe to exercise outside and school children are being kept indoors for recess. Some days it’s hard to go about my normal business knowing how much damage is occurring and thinking of all the firefighters who are working around the clock to keep our towns safe. And even though I know my home is safe, it’s still a bit unnerving to be driving home and see something like this
Or to get of the interstate, look back toward Bozeman and see this
I know that wildfires are a part of nature's cycle and a part of living in Montana. Other parts of the country have their own risks like tornadoes or earthquakes. I lived in the south for many years and experienced hurricanes but this is a little different. With a hurricane you have warning and then not much to do but get ready and wait it out. Here, it's a little different. Often I'll we'll arrive at work in the morning literally asking each other "Where's the fire?" and determining whether or not we have anything to worry about. Then we just wait, keep informed and hope for rain (without lightning).