Between the devastation of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose, monsoons in South Asia, earthquake in Mexico, wildfires in LA and what seems like the entire Western U.S. … you might be wondering about Montana and our beloved Glacier National Park. We’re donating and praying for our neighbors and I’m sorry to say we’ve been hit, too, and there’s no end in sight.
With over one million acres burned or burning, Big Sky Country looks more like big fire country.
A few 2017 Montana fire highlights, so far:
- July 24, 2017 – Governor Bullock declared State of Emergency
- As of this morning, an estimated 1,005,803 acres have burned in Montana in 2017
- The number of acres burned by lightning-caused fires is 914,574; the acres burned by human-caused fires is 91,229 — for perspective, the state of Rhode Island covers 770,000 acres
- More than 4,000 firefighters (rural, volunteer, state, military, federal, and more)
- Severe drought, with no rain in 57 days, no rain in sight
- 42 active fires; The total number of wildfires so far this year is 1,687
- Historic Sperry Chalet, one of two active chalets remaining in GNP, built in 1913, lost to the Sprague fire on August 31
- Lake McDonald Lodge of GNP is in the path of the flames
- Several of our towns and cities have been living in unhealthy-to-hazardous air conditions for 7 long weeks
- Homes and countless livestock and wildlife lost
- 2 heroic young firefighters lost their lives
Figures from Governor Bullock’s office and the Northern Rockies Coordination Center, which is part of the National Interagency Fire Center. Following is a video featuring many of the wildfires around Montana, set to the soundtrack of Disturbed’s cover of “The Sound of Silence.”
A few Glacier fire pics: Sperry Chalet, the Sprague fire at night, Lake McDonald Lodge protection efforts
And it’s not just Glacier and Montana. Nationally, 137 wildfires are burning across 7.8 million acres and growing.
Personally, I’m safe and just fine. It’s very smokey and has been for weeks. But my heart goes out to the friends who have been evacuated and lost homes, the neighbors whose ranch burned 90%, the heroic firefighters and volunteers, and all the people and animals affected by wildfire.
Senator Jon Tester told a story of ranchers removing horse shoes so that horses don’t spark more fires. It’s an apocalyptic tinder box.
Fire is necessary and healing.
So is rain. There’s so much good that comes from both, cleansing and clearing and renewal.
But this is a LOT.
Fire and ash cover our western states, from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California, to Montana, even as century-level hurricanes, earthquakes, and monsoons deluge other parts of the world in floods, wreaking havoc for millions.
I almost sent out a call to all of you weeks ago to help me call down the rain on our scorched earth. But then hurricane Harvey dropped on Texas, and I feared calling rain for our part of the world would be insensitive toward those suffering from too much water. I didn’t have words. I still don’t.
Calling the elements
Here’s my hope. May all be safe and watched over and cared for in every way. May balance be restored.
A friend suggested the universe might be sending us signals to get our act together. Flood, wind, fire, earthquake, tsunami. Maybe it’s time for us to just focus on taking care of each other the way we do in times of crisis- every single day.
Another friend said she was going to imagine that the water from the hurricane can be thoughtfully redistributed to wherever water is needed, creating an all around win by saving those in the hurricane’s path, putting an end to the fires and smoke here, and showering water’s renewing and life-giving grace upon those who need it most.
Let’s hold these images together, shall we? And continue to take care of each other in ways small and large, in times of crisis and all the times in between.
A huge thank you to all the firefighters and other brave helpers protecting people, places, and animals around the world.