Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Alex Ross 

Locals help with recovery, expenses of East Fork Fire


September 11, 2017

Havre Daily News/Floyd Brandt

Alicia Burrington holds the decals Friday she made to sell to raise funds for the East Fork Fire. Burrington said Friday she had raised about $9,000 selling the decals online at $5 each.

Since the East Fork Fire was first reported Aug. 27, in the Bear Paw Mountains, people throughout the area have been helping battle the flames and assist with the recovery effort, from fixing fences to selling decals to selling beer.

The Montana State University-Northern Collegiate Stockgrowers had been helping ranchers on the front lines. Barry Francis, the public relations committee chair for the Collegiate Stockgrowers, said since the day after it happened up until last Monday, about 10 members of the Collegiate Stockgrowers at some point helped ranchers close to the fire fight the flames, move cows out of harm's way, repair fences and help with evacuation efforts.

"There were quite a few of them that went out there to help," Francis said.

He said some students talked to their teachers and were able to miss class for a day or two to help with the effort.

Francis said because area ranchers have been the biggest supporters of the Stockgrowers, the group felt a special obligation to support them in their time of need.

"Most of us felt that was something we had to do to just give back, since they have done so much for us, basically," Francis said.

Francis said the Stockgrowers also plan on having a pint night fundraiser at Triple Dog Brewing Co. Tuesday, Sept 19. Burgers and hot dogs will be sold at the event, Francis said, and proceeds will go to supporting  the ranchers impacted by the East Fork Fire as well as fire departments whose firefighters have been working to contain the flames.

Stockgrowers hope to return to the front lines to assist with the recovery "when things slow down a little bit." Francis said.

Francis added that people who want to donate materials to help rebuild fences or some of their time to help ranchers impacted by the fire can do so by contacting him at 599-1891.

Other people, while not actively fighting the fire, have also found other ways to offer support by raising funds for the recovery effort.

Alicia Burrington has raised money for the recovery by making and selling #MontanaStrong decals.

"It was the only thing, really, that I felt like I could make," she said. "I can't help fight the fires or do anything else, and I knew this would raise a lot of money."   

As of Friday, Burrington said, she has had 1,750 orders for decals, which are $5 each, and raised more than $9,000, from customers as far as France and Denmark.  

Burrington said she initially hoped to raise $1,000.

She made the decals with her Cricut machine, which is used to cut material and print.

Burrington said some of the money will be put into accounts at Independence Bank, one set up by the county. She has also given $2,500 to an account for the Lolo Peaks Fire, to a foundation for the Rice Ridge Fire and for other fires throughout Montana.

People can order decals at https://aliciajburrington.ecwid.com/.

Burrington is accepting donations to buy vinyl used to make the decals. She said people wishing to donate money or materials can do so by contacting her at ajoburrington@gmail.com, where she will provide an address for people to send their checks.

Burrington said she has also set up an account at Bear Paw Credit Union called Support Montana Fires. All checks must be made out to Support Montana Fires, and the word donations written on the memo line.

Area businesses have also pitched in to help with the effort, including Nalivka's Original Pizza Kitchen donating 10 percent of their profits from the nights of Sept. 1 and 2 to help out with the recovery.

Pat Jensen, who owns Nalivka's with his wife, said the restaurant raised about $600, which included money from purchases and donations.

Triple Dog Brewing Co. donated $2 of every Bear Paw Wit pint sold to the Bear Paw Volunteer Fire Department. A Sept. 6 post on Triple Dog's Facebook page shows a check made out for $560 to the Bear Paw Volunteer Fire Department.

"Thank you all for drinking up the Bears Paw Wit for a good cause," the post said.

Two accounts have  been set up at Independence Bank that people can donate to, one for the Bear Paw Volunteer Fire Department and another the East Fork Fire Fund.

Denali Solomon of Independence Bank said people wishing to donate to either fund can bring their donations to the bank and give it to a teller.

People should specify which of the two accounts they want their money to go toward.

Editor's Note: People with information about other fundraisers to help the firefighting and recovery effort can contact the Havre Daily News at tleeds@havreadailynews.com.


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