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Wildfires Burn Through Montana's Budget to Battle Them

Wildfires Burn Through Montana's Budget to Battle Them”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, took to the floor of the Senate on Thursday to describe the toll the fires have taken. One of the ways fire managers determine how fire-prone an area is, is a measure called the energy release component, or ERC. During that same period a year ago, CAL FIRE reported 3,674 fires that burned 202,716 acres.

"Right now, levels seem to be good again", he said. And in Glacier National Park, Governor Bullock says, firefighters are doing all they can to save the famous Lake McDonald Lodge. Warmer temperatures and drier conditions increase the chances of a fire starting, or help a fire spread. It dusted cars and porches with tiny bits of ash, forced evacuations, closed Interstate 84 from Troutdale east to Hood River and threatened the 92-year-old lodge at Multnomah Falls, the state's most popular natural site with 2.5 million annual visitors.

In a 2015 report, the Forest Service indicated that wildland fire management had grown as a percentage of their budget from 16 percent to 52 percent in the previous 20 years. A large wildfire is any fire over 100 acres.

State authorities are warning residents to limit the amount of fires they start, saying that fire season in Minnesota begins this month and runs through the first snowfall. An estimated 35 fires were active across the region earlier this week.

The most destructive fire burning is in Trinity County, the Helena Fire is now 30 percent contained. The Lolo Peak fire, which is burning southwest of Missoula, was almost 49,000 acres as of Thursday afternoon, and the Rice Ridge Fire northeast of Seeley Lake was at 120,000 acres.

"The fire was a mile and a half away", he said.

The cost of fighting wildfires burning in OR is starting to add up.

People in OR covered their faces with scarves to keep choking ash from wildfires from filling their lungs and wiped the soot from windshields.

Though Congress is making progress on providing immediate wildfire relief assistance, members of Oregon's delegation are calling on lawmakers at the nation's capital to reform how the federal government manages forests and pays for firefighting.

Firefighters battling the Chetco Bar fire in Oregon awoke Saturday morning to find thousands of dollars worth of equipment missing from two of their trucks, including an oxygen tank, a firefighter's bag, a firefighter jacket and a flat-headed axe, Oregon Live reported on Tuesday.



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