USA: According to the state’s Legislative Fiscal Division, the 2017 wildfire season is expected to cost the state $74.2 million, as wildfires burned nearly 1.3 million acres.
During the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers budgeted $32.3 million to fight fires for the fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
This year’s fires burned through that entire amount as well as an additional $12.5 million from the Governor’s Emergency Fund for Fires.
That leaves nearly $45 million in costs for this season unfunded and no money in the coffer for the 2018 fire season.
The next most expensive year on record for the state was 2007. Fires that year cost Montana around $50 million.
You can read the state’s report here.
Montana Television Network (MTN) stations across the state have now raised $450,838 for their Montana Wildfire Relief Fund. This includes an initial $50,000 in matching funds from the Montana Television Network and its parent company Cordillera Communications.
Once MTN’s original match was announced, the fundraising drive caught the attention of Arthur Blank and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. Co-founder of The Home Depot, Blank owns the Atlanta Falcons and the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch. They announced an additional $50,000 match. The donation comes from the Guest Ranch Fund, an affiliate fund to the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
In late September, Carl and Kay Carbon of Great Falls stepped forward and matched another $50,000. That and an anonymous $50,000 donation helped the fund surge past the $400,000 mark as it continues to grow.
As of Thursday, October 12th, 1,322 people across the state and across the country have donated to the cause. Other significant contributors include $25,000 from the Montana Shirt Company and $10,000 from American Bank.
The money from the fund will be allocated to volunteer fire departments, fire districts, and communities or individuals impacted by the recent wildfire season.
The fund was created by MTN and the Montana Community Foundation to help organizations, first responders, and communities affected by the 2017 wildfire season.
Volunteer fire departments across Montana are encouraged to apply. The Montana Community Foundation is also working with dozens of smaller community foundations across the state to identify organizations that could use the help. Organizers say 100 percent of the money donated to the fund will go to communities in Montana for wildfire relief.
Riley Meredith of the Montana Community Foundation said, “We won’t just be sending those checks out the door, and that will be the end of it. We also do follow-up visits. We ask for reporting. Nothing too onerous because we know these folks have other things to do, but we want to make sure that these dollars that folks across Montana and across the country have donated are being put to good use.”
More details about the application process will be posted within the next week or so.
GIVE BY MAIL: Mail your check payable to the Montana Community Foundation, PO Box 1145, Helena, MT 59624-1145. Write “Montana Fire Relief Fund” in the memo line.