The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Fire Season has began; everyone is on high alert


July 31, 2019

Bob Finke and George Rice, Shane Chauvet wrote, "true examples of what has made America great!! The world needs more men like them!" Volunteered recently at the fire burning towards Big Sandy.

Nothing is scarier than a wildfire uncontrolled. Nothing is more inspiring than a community working together to fight it. The Big Sandy Fire department is well trained and drops everything to help, but close neighbors stop everything as well to help.

Larry Ophus, Big Sandy Fire Chief confirmed, "There's plenty of fuel out there." With all of the abundant rain earlier this year, the grass has grown tall, and with the heat, it's starting to dry out. There has already been plenty of fires too. The fires we have had already this summer have been caused by lightning strikes, equipment failures, and dry and hot conditions.

When fires are caused by equipment failure, it isn't because they are negligent necessarily. Everyone knows you need to remove extra straw. Make sure all moving parts are well lubricated, so friction doesn't cause sparks. All farmer and ranchers know they need to have their equipment in working order. Larry asked farmers to consider, "When the weather is scorching and windy, it might be best to work for another day, or swath in the morning when it is a little cooler, and the humidity is a little higher."

I followed a truck pulling a trailer, and he didn't know that the axel had broken on the trailer. As it was driving down the road sparks were flying everywhere starting five fires along the road.

The fire department is well trained. "It would be best if they would get a hold of one of the firemen out there so they could direct them. So, they could tell them what they are trying to do and the best place for them to help fight the fires.

So much depends upon mother nature. The most difficult fires are those caused by lightning because they can smolder and hide for a day, and when the winds pick up, they can start burning grass very quickly. Most farmers have water or a disk ready to help fight the fire.

Chouteau County has eight volunteer fire departments. Big Sandy has 30 firefighters.

Lastly, Larry said, "Be cautious, know where you are at and what you're doing. Watch the temperature and the humidity and if you have to swath and harvest have something there --water or a disk to help put it out. The fire department is great, but sometimes we could be an hour and a half away."

Joan Gasvoda said, "swathing is scary because all you have to do is just nick a rock and you can to cause a spark." Even when she swaths at dark, she can see the sparks fly up.

I could have talked to any fireman, but Jack Thornton was getting out of his truck at the Grocery Store, so I decided to visit with him as well. He has been in fire fighting for 13 years.

He commented, "Make sure all equipment is in good working order. Make sure your fire is out, and all of your extinguishers are charged up and ready to go." We talked about the importance of the firefighting equipment being in good working order. That old pickup that carries the fire fighting equipment should be in excellent condition. "When you fight a fire, you should start from the black."

Jack works for Fire Ice. He travels around selling and giving workshops on how to use the product. It is a gel fire suppressant in fire extinguishers that can withstand a temperature of 5,000 degrees. It should be stored in trucks and tractors and can be found at Torgersons.

On the Montana Radio web-page, they have a Montana WildFire Round-Up, if you are interested in tracking and praying for the wildfires in Montana. They up-date it several times a day.


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