Congressman Daines views Rock Creek Fire

Photo by Eleanor Guerrero U.S. Rep Steve Daines begins his tour of the Rock Creek FIre Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Aug. 28, U.S. Representative Steve Daines toured the Rock Creek Fire. He received a briefing at the Incident Command Post at the Carbon County Fairgrounds. Incident Commander (IC) Shawn Pearson applauded the local Red Lodge Fire Rescue team and Fire Chief Tom Kuntz saying his Type 2 team was set up for success when it arrived. Daines said, “I am very impressed with the cooperation between local, state and federal teams and crews.” He reported his office had talked to the Forest Service in Washington, D.C. to make sure that the funding was there for the resources needed. He was assured there would be no delays. Kuntz talked about the need for fuels reduction and said, “To say you can’t fund fuels reduction because you are funding fire suppression makes no sense.”

Daines said he would do what he could to inform Congress about the need for fuels reduction, noting that photos showing the difference between fires in areas that have received treatment compared to fires in areas without treatment are very effective tools. He said he would work to streamline the bureaucracy of the process for federal lands to receive fuel treatments, adding there should be no hold-ups due to frivolous litigation. After the briefing, Daines boarded a helicopter to tour the Rock Creek Fire.

He hoped to see the extent of the fire, where resources might be needed and see firefighters in action. He said, “My interest is also personal. I have spent a lot of time in the Beartooths, climbing the summit of Granite Peak, even assisting in rescues there. The Beartooths are not just a Montana treasure, but a national treasure.”

IC Pearson said he had worked in a lot of fires recently and the cooperation here has been unique. Kuntz agreed saying, “We know how to bring communities together and respond to a disaster. A lot of the country doesn’t know how to do that.” Daines called the teams’ cooperation and focus, “Outstanding.”