Montana Outdoors

August 19, 2018

Fire season, 2018

Filed under: Wildland fires — Tags: , , , — montucky @ 11:31 am

Until August 10 the 2018 wildfire season had not brought any fires to the local area here in northwest Montana but at about 2:30 on Friday afternoon that changed with a fire start in a small house trailer that quickly spread, burning it, two vehicles, a shed, and a propane tank before proceeding into the timber and running uphill toward other homes. Fortunately there were considerable resources available from many different fire agencies and with their hard work and amazing cooperation this fire was gotten under control fairly quickly without the loss of other homes in the fire perimeter.

Some day I would like to get some pictures (or better yet, video) of an initial attack on a fire, but there’s always so many urgent and critical things to do that there’s no time to take pictures. On this fire I responded with our local Rural Fire Department and drove a water tender. Once the fire was mostly under control after the second day I took a few pictures of the tender. The last one was not one of my pictures, but it showed the tender while I was waiting for a road to be cleared up to one of the homes to provide structure protection not long after the fire started.

The truck in the photos is a type 1 tactical water tender, which means that in addition to delivering water, it has the capacity to perform direct attack on a fire, including pump and roll ability. This one is very maneuverable while still carrying 3,000 gallons (12 tons) of water. It is 10 feet high and about 26 feet in length.

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Weeksville fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire

Water tender at Weeksville Fire



  1. Good thing you and the other local volunteers got it under control before things got really bad. A quick response can make a huge difference. Nice looking truck. Doesn’t look like it is that agile because of the size, but I’ll take your word for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — August 19, 2018 @ 11:48 am

  2. I have so much respect for all volunteers who man the firetrucks. All of our fire departments here are staffed by such volunteers and I’m so grateful for them. The way those wildfires out in your area spread scares the dickens out of me. Good to hear this one was brought into control.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — August 19, 2018 @ 12:08 pm

    • The most recent statistic I’ve seen stated that 69% of the firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers. Our local department is an excellent one and we are quite well equipped.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 19, 2018 @ 12:33 pm

  3. Another bad season for fires. Yes, I also like the tender.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Malcolm R. Campbell — August 19, 2018 @ 12:08 pm

    • So far we have been lucky locally. This has all of the conditions for a very bad fire year. I think now it has not rained in the last 50 days and daytime temps have been in the mid to high 90’s. For the first two days of this fire the temperature on the fire lines was 109º.

      This kind of equipment really helps the effectiveness of the firefighting staff!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 19, 2018 @ 12:42 pm

  4. That looks like a fairly big fire. I’m glad you were able to put it out before it took any more homes and I hope the rest of the season is quiet.
    I think one answer to your problem of getting photos would be a Go Pro camera. My son has one and you can strap it to anything, including your helmet / hard hat. They take amazing video as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — August 19, 2018 @ 3:42 pm

    • This fire was stopped at 54 acres because of the quick response and fairly good access. It could have been much worse! As dry as it is it’s a good bet that there will be more before the snow comes.
      I’ve thought of a Go Pro. My son has one and we might try to figure out where to mount it that wouldn’t be in the way. Yesterday I found a small ammo box that will protect my Nikon1 well enough that I can take it with me, but it will depend on which truck I’ll be taking. Some have a safe place on board but others don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 19, 2018 @ 4:03 pm

      • It sounds like a pocket size point and shoot would come in handy too. I have what they call the “war camera.” It’s the Olympus Stylus TG-870. It’s shock proof, water proof, etc. and it sees a hard time in the woods with me but just keeps on going. It does great macros.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — August 20, 2018 @ 3:15 am

  5. I’m glad that fire was controlled quickly. I didn’t realize that 69% of US firefighters are volunteers. That’s amazing and admirable that you all do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Candace — August 19, 2018 @ 4:08 pm

    • Most people don’t know that either. It takes a fairly good sized town to support a paid fire department. I volunteer one can exist because of grants and some government subsidies that cover equipment purchases and operating expenses. Some places have a mixture of a few paid personnel and the rest volunteers. It’s always a struggle to get good volunteers.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 19, 2018 @ 4:18 pm

  6. Being in NJ, we hear of all the wildfires out West on the news and always feel heartbroken for the people going through this! I am glad that this was contained quickly! I am in awe of all the volunteers that do this without hesitation!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Reed Andariese — August 19, 2018 @ 4:28 pm

    • On this fire there were 4 volunteer departments involved. There were many crews from various Ranger Districts of the U.S. Forest Service, Montana State DNRC locations, six heavy helicopter crews and two dozer operators who work on contract for the US Forest Service. We even had some retardant drops from a 4-engine jet tanker from Neptune Aviation based in Missoula (about 80 miles away). There was also support from two volunteer ambulance departments and I saw one crew from the National Park Service. It was an amazing and very efficient group of folks.


      Comment by montucky — August 19, 2018 @ 4:43 pm

  7. Well done to all involved, and well wishes to you all for those fires you’ll still need to battle in the coming months.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by de Wets Wild — August 19, 2018 @ 8:20 pm

  8. Well done (getting the fire quickly under control).

    That’s an amazing modern looking large fire truck. How wonderful that there were many willing and trained hands to ‘pitch in’.

    (thanks for sharing this story – your images are excellent as usual).

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Vicki — August 20, 2018 @ 4:59 am

    • It was very fortunate that there were so many resources available at the right time. By now many of them are committed to other fires, so the next one will be more difficult.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 20, 2018 @ 7:36 am

  9. Great photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by annicaaktiv — August 20, 2018 @ 11:46 am

  10. That’s one hefty looking truck! Well done to you, and I hope you don’t get called out as much this year as you did last!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jo Woolf — August 21, 2018 @ 12:09 am

    • Thanks. I hope so too. The smoke from fires in other states has been extremely bad this summer. Locally we have been fortunate.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 21, 2018 @ 6:34 am

  11. How close was the fire to your house?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — August 23, 2018 @ 8:26 am

    • A little under four miles.


      Comment by montucky — August 23, 2018 @ 9:09 am

      • That’s really close! Thank goodness the fire didn’t spread.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Steve Schwartzman — August 23, 2018 @ 9:40 am

        • My house was never in danger, but there were four in the immediate area of the fire that we were able to save with all of the resources we had. The fire was contained to 54 acres.


          Comment by montucky — August 23, 2018 @ 10:05 am

  12. So pleased to hear that the fire was got under control quickly … I too have much respect for the volunteers and gratitude. Our rural fighters are also volunteers ..

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Julie@frogpondfarm — August 23, 2018 @ 1:32 pm

    • We were lucky to have so many resources here and able to respond. This could have been a very bad fire.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 23, 2018 @ 9:29 pm

  13. So sorry to hear about the close fire and so glad it was quickly under control from further devastation. Kudos to the firefighters, they’re efforts are forever commended. Our son-in-law is a Delaware firefighter. He would be out west at the drop of a bucket to help with the forest fires if my daughter would let him. He, like others, are so dedicated to saving lives and property. Firefighters are a tight family.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by bayphotosbydonna — August 23, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

    • Yes, firefighters are indeed a tight family. On this fire it was heartwarming to see fire personnel from over a dozen different agencies, organizations and disciplines work together seamlessly and selflessly to get the job done.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 23, 2018 @ 9:33 pm

  14. I follow the Texas A&M Forest Service incident updates, and it’s been quite an education. Just today, I watched a fire go from 400 acres and 10% contained to 501 acres but 90% contained in five hours. Early detection and rapid deployment of resources are so important. I’m certain most people in Texas don’t realize how many fires are being dealt with on a daily basis, or how many people are involved in keeping them under control. It’s probably the same there.

    I suspect you’ve read about the difficulties experienced with the Mendocino Complex fire in California, when Verizon throttled the speed of firefighters’ internet connections and made communication nearly impossible. I’ll bet there were a few uncomfortable hours in the Verizon boardrooms once the state started coming after them for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by shoreacres — August 25, 2018 @ 8:34 pm

    • The whole issue of command and control on wildfires is incredibly complex, especially on the larger incidents where there are many different resources, agencies and jurisdictions involved. We spend many training hours on the subject of incident command even at the department level. I can only imagine what it must have been like on an incident the size of the Mendocino Complex. Of course, one of the major difficulties with wildfires is that when conditions are right for wildfire there are so many incidents happening all at once, spreading available resources very thin and testing the capability of all communication systems.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 25, 2018 @ 9:34 pm

  15. Sad about what happened. To me it was interesting to see fire trucks, yours look gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Sartenada — August 28, 2018 @ 12:18 am

    • Fires are sad. It was lucky on this one that we were able to control it quickly. That’s a very good and useful truck, well suited to fires in a rural area.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 28, 2018 @ 8:10 pm

  16. Hi Montucky, So sad your area had that fire. I am originally from California and spent many years in both Southern and Northern Calif. so I know about wildfires. The big culprit in many Western areas is the Pine Beetle that decimates the Pine forests and leaves standing dead trees by the literal millions. I am glad your crews were able to handle that particular fire in your area. Hope more fires don’t get started due to lightning or worse… Have a great day tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wildlifewatcher — August 29, 2018 @ 6:24 pm

    • It was lucky that we had resources close and ready when this one started so we were able to control it quickly.


      Comment by montucky — August 29, 2018 @ 7:14 pm

  17. Full of admiration & respect for anyone willing to volunteer for fire fighting duties.
    Having seen a whole mountainside on fire and how quickly it can spread, I can understand how speed is paramount, sounds like you have a great team. Hope the rest of the year is lucky for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by David A Lockwood — September 8, 2018 @ 12:39 pm

    • Thanks. Our weather has cooled and that helps the fire situation, but we really need a few days of good rain or snow before this year’s fire season will be over. It’s still extremely dry in the forests.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — September 8, 2018 @ 9:18 pm

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