Minocqua man fighting huge wildfire in Montana - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Minocqua man fighting huge wildfire in Montana


WAUSAU (WAOW) - While many are focused on hurricane damage, wildfires are torching land out west.

Montana is seeing their worst fire season in years and are desperate for help. That's why one Minocqua man with more than 30 years experience is on the front lines of the fight.

Harv Skjerves is in the hills of Montana battling a 63,000 acre fire. "The main objective on this fire is to protect homes and other structures," said Skjerves, "this isn't the worst fire, but it's the worst fire season they've ever had."

The driest summer on record in Montana created perfect conditions for wildfires, and a July lightning storm lit the match.

"Because there's so many fires, they couldn't get on them fast enough," said Skjerves.

Because the emergency is so widespread, the workers are stretched thin.

"A fire of this size and intensity we should have at least 1,200 people, but they're just not available, they're off on other fires," said Skjerves, who said about 550 people are currently fighting the blaze.

The teams are using everything they can to get the fires under control.  "They've been doing a lot of backfiring, by hand and by helicopter to control where it's spreading," said Skjerves.

"There's a lot of tired people out here that want to go home, but we'll stay as long as we need to," an emotional Skjerves said.

Mother Nature isn't helping, Skjerves says Montana hasn't had any measurable rain since June.

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