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Fire Departments unite for controlled burn


The Havre Fire Department held a controlled burn and training session in conjunction with Bear Paw Volunteer Fire Department, Chinook Volunteer Fire Department and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Wednesday at US Bank Park across from Montana State University-Northern.

Around 20 firefighters from the different departments spent the afternoon training and going over the plan of attack when fighting brush fires before putting their knowledge to the test.

After a brief test burn, the group scorched a large swathe of the park from around 5:45 to 7:30 p.m., which sent smoke billowing south over the Northern campus.

Havre Assistant Fire Chief Kelly Jones said the group would have gotten started with their controlled burn of the park earlier in the day, but the National Weather Service in Great Falls advised against getting started until after 5 p.m. due to the high winds earlier in the day.

As firefighters bided their time waiting for a window of good weather, Tammy Murray, secretary at the Havre Fire Department, invited the group to her home adjacent to the park and served hot dogs and chips.

Once the training was underway, firefighters practiced a slew of skills they don't get to test very often, including prepping the field for the burn, using drip torches and controlling the fire once it got going.

Jones said Havre Fire Department tries to do at least one controlled burn training session a year, and that they performed one last year at the police shooting range south of town.

US Bank Park is once again open to the public, and DNRC firefighter Heath Gerber, who helped lead the session, said the scorched fields will be rejuvenated in a matter of months.


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