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Fountain firefighters aid Montana in combating wildfires

September 13, 2017 Updated: September 13, 2017 at 4:59 pm
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photo - Three Fountain firefighters headed to Montana this week to assist with suppression efforts at the West Fork Fire near Libby, Montana.
Three Fountain firefighters headed to Montana this week to assist with suppression efforts at the West Fork Fire near Libby, Montana. 

While Colorado Springs firefighters are helping with hurricane recovery in Texas and Florida, Fountain firefighters are assisting with wildfires in Montana.

One group returned Sunday from fighting a 52,160-acre wildfire in Lolo, Mont., which was 46 percent contained as of Wednesday. Another three firefighters headed for Libby, Mont., on Tuesday to work on the West Fork fire, which was burning 14,827 acres and still growing, according to Inciweb.

They are among 238 volunteers - 30 from Colorado - who answered Montana's call for help as the West Fork fire inched closer to 747 homes, fire officials said.

But that's what firefighters do: They run toward the flames, Fountain Fire Chief Darin Anstine said, stressing that the action was not unusual. Volunteer firefighters from other states came to El Paso County's aid during the Black Forest and Waldo Canyon fires, he said.

"We go all over the country," Anstine said. "That's how people help other people."

Montana has been quick to show its gratitude.

During a pit stop at a Billings Wal-Mart, the manager declined to take the firefighters' money for the thermals they'd picked up as a cold front was moving into the fire zone.

"While approaching the register, we were told that the store manager would not let us pay and Walmart is picking up our tab," Fountain Fire said on its Facebook page. "WOW. JUST WOW."

The West Fork fire was sparked by lightning Aug. 30; lightning also was blamed for the Moose Peak fire about 70 miles south.

They are among several fires in Wyoming, Montana and Oregon that last week left Colorado in a cloud of smoke, most of which has cleared. Wednesday's air quality was "good," according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

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Contact Kaitlin Durbin: 636-0362

Twitter: @njKaitlinDurbin

Facebook: Kaitlin Durbin

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