Montana: Forest Fires and Calls from Home

Perhaps this has happened to you-you’ve headed off on vacation and people who love you start to worry if you’re safe. That’s happened to us this summer. It started when we were driving from Seattle, Washington to Philipsburg, Montana. In Coerr d’Alene, Idaho my cell phone rang. It was my mom. My husband’s mom had called her concerned that we might be driving right into forest fires. She had tried to reach us, but couldn’t, so she called my mom who loves to have a reason to call us. I assured my mom that we were safe, and as far as I knew, we weren’t going to be near any forest fires. I lied. Read on for more and the picture.

Seriously, I didn’t think we would be. I had no idea one would pop up in Clinton near the sight of the Testicle Festival right where we would drive through on our way to Missoula for the day. Sure, we could see the haze in the sky from where we’re staying in Philipsburg, but that was in the distance. By the time we hit I-90 the air quality started going downhill. A few miles from Clinton we had to turn on the headlights and a highway electronic sign said something like “No stopping. Fire incident.” It smelled like we were driving into a campfire. Not the small WoodGas Camp Stove variety–handy for cooking bacon, (see Thursday’s posts) but the big kind that could load up a large Girl Scout troop with enough s’mores to last them a week.

My friend who was driving tried to take a picture with her camera phone out the passenger window. We could see small fires dotting the side of the mountain before we passed to the other side and the air started to clear. On the way back, after dark, my daughter took a couple of shots. Here’s what a forest fire looks like when you’re going about 50 MPH on a highway at 10 PM.

Just yesterday my husband found out that my mother-in-law called Philipsburg’s Chamber of Commerce to get the forest fire scoop. Evidently, the town is on the news as being in forest fire danger or something. Even another friend who flew into Salt Lake City from New Jersey to drive to Philipsburg called the day before his flight to find out if we were being evacuated. As far as I can tell, it’s business as usual. I’m getting ready to head over to Doe Brother’s later today where there’s WiFi hook up so I can get a cup of coffee and load this baby up.