Missoula County Commissioners and a handful of city officials toured the site of the Mill Creek fire Tuesday afternoon. The fire began last week and burned 708 acres of ridgeline southeast of Frenchtown.
The fire crew that worked the blaze is a new Type 3 Incident Response Team made up entirely of local first responders. City, county, and state agencies all collaborated to set up the team. They plan to provide rapid response capabilities to incidents in the county as well as lend a helping hand to neighboring districts.
As the first team to a local wildfire, they will also provide invaluable assistance to state and federal teams that may be called in later.
Tuesday they welcomed officials to Frenchtown, showing how the county's valuable tax dollars are being used to fight fire.
After a brief meeting at the Frenchtown fire house, the commissioners toured the team's Incident Command Center. Located in a municipal park, the center was nothing more than a row of tents set up next to a well stocked food truck. Feeding firefighters is a big job, and that is where a large part of the tax dollars end up being used.
Afterwards they went up to the fire line in an area where it came perilously close to a group of homes high up on the ridge.
Officials were impressed by the well oiled machine they saw. Missoula County Commissioner Bill Carey was reassured that they were spending money wisely and that they were fighting wildfires effectively.
The Mill Creek Fire is 90 percent contained. The incident team will stay on-site to put out any hot spots, but most of their resources and equipment are being transferred to other fire sites where they are needed. Resources are hard to come by and the demand will only increase as fire season in the West rages on.