Montana winds down quiet 2018 fire season after record year

Photo of Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park provided is courtesy of Philip Granrud Photography.

Storms this week are dumping rain across Montana and bringing the state closer to the end of a fire season that's been much smaller and much less expensive than 2017's record-setting year.

Fires this year have burned 143 square miles acres (370 square kilometers) across Montana, which is about 7 percent of the record 2,134 square miles (5,527 square kilometers) that burned in 2017.

The cost to the state is also a small fraction of last year's budget-busting $70 million fire season.

Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Director John Tubbs recently told the Environmental Quality Council the state's 2018 fire suppression costs are forecast to be below $8 million.

That's doesn't include fires burning in national forests, parks and other federal lands. Glacier National Park's Howe Ridge Fire alone has cost $12.4 million to date.

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