Hours after commissioners declared a fire emergency in Missoula County, Gov. Greg Gianforte followed later Tuesday by issuing a statewide emergency as drought conditions grip nearly 85% of the state.
There’s no forecasted end to record high temperatures and some counties, like Missoula, are poised to set new records for consecutive days with temperatures over 90 degrees. Eastern Montana is under an excessive heat warning.
The declaration allows the governor to mobilize state and National Guard resources. He can also ask for help from other states.
As of Wednesday morning, more than 1,390 wildland fires have burned more than 140,000 acres. National firefighting resources are stretched thin.
“I’m urging all Montanans and visitors to our state to do their part. Follow local fire restrictions, prepare your homes and communities for wildfire, and recreate and work safely to ensure you’re not adding to our wildland firefighters’ workload by inadvertently starting a wildfire,” Gianforte said.