Governor Steve Bullock on Sunday issued an executive order declaring a fire emergency in Montana.
The declaration allows Bullock to mobilize additional state resources and the Montana National Guard to fight the fires, as well as expend funds to meet the contingencies and needs that may arise from them.
Prior to signing the executive order, the governor was briefed by officials with the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, and the Disaster & Emergency Services department at the Department of Military Affairs.
He also talked with Rick Connell, the Incident Commander at the Lodgepole Complex area, which is currently the state’s largest fire and has burned more than 200,000 acres.
In a press release, Bullock said, “Montana is facing extreme fire conditions. Our top priority is ensuring the safety of Montanans, their property, and our communities. This declaration provides additional resources to the brave men and women fighting these fires. As firefighters battle blazes across the state, Montanans must stay vigilant about active fires in their area, obey any evacuation orders, and prevent any actions that might spark new fires.”
Here is the full text of the executive order:
STATE OF MONTANA, OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 7-2017
EXECUTIVE ORDER DECLARING AN EMERGENCY TO EXIST STATEWIDE IN THE STATE OF MONTANA
WHEREAS, extremely hazardous wild land fire conditions currently exist throughout the entire State of Montana, including near-record temperatures, continual wind and low relative humidity;
WHEREAS, extreme and exceptional drought conditions exist throughout eastern and central Montana;
WHEREAS, numerous wildland fires have occurred and continue to ignite in the State of Montana, specifically in eastern and central Montana;
WHEREAS, fire complexes are established in numerous eastern and central Montana counties to include the Lodgepole Complex consisting of 4 fires over 200,000 acres;
WHEREAS, many of these fires are threatening numerous residences, outbuildings and have required numerous evacuations of residents and subsequent sheltering of the evacuees;
WHEREAS, firefighting and aviation fuel resources are expected to be at critical shortage levels;
WHEREAS, continued deployment of firefighting resources is needed to considerably reduce the number of large wildland fires, which in turn significantly reduces the damage to both public and private property;
WHEREAS, continued aggressive initial attacks on all future wildland fire starts are needed to protect lives and property in the state; and
WHEREAS, wildland fires have been and are currently burning and have created an imminent threat of a disaster, which timely actions can avert or minimize; and
WHEREAS, under these conditions, pursuant to § 10-3-302, MCA, the Governor may mobilize state resources and the Montana National Guard to protect life, health, and property by declaring a state of emergency.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Steve Bullock, Governor of the State of Montana, by virtue of the authority vested in me pursuant to the Montana Constitution, Title 10, Chapter 3, MCA, and other applicable laws of the State of Montana, do hereby declare under § 10-3- 302, MCA, that an emergency exists in the State of Montana.
This order is effective July 23, 2017.