Quibbling while Montana burns

WTF monster
WHUT??? (Source)

Heard on National Public Radio this evening: the US Forest Service is refusing to allow specially equipped state-owned helicopters to be used to fight fires raging on federal lands in Montana because they don’t meet federal safety standards.

The issue is that, in terms of federal aviation safety standards, helicopters of this size may not carry buckets of more than 100 gallons of water. Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation uses five Vietnam-era Hueys, specially modified and safety approved (in terms of state standards) to carry 324-gallon buckets.

While these idiots are quibbling over bucket safety, about 100,000 acres of Montana is burning. In fact the whole of the Pacific Northwest is on fire, and firefighters are coming from as far away as New Zealand and South Africa to help. Firefighters have died. People have lost their homes, their livelihoods. Beloved pets, valuable livestock and countless wild animals have been toasted. Millions of acres of pasture, crop lands and forests are black and smoking. Himself and I live a hundred or so miles from the nearest fires, but we’re surrounded, and I don’t remember the last time we had a smoke-free sky.

The head of the US Forest Service is Thomas Tidwell. The politician accountable for this mess is Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. We already know Vilsack is a worm – he’s one of Monsanto’s whores. Thanks for that, Barack! Anyway, here’s the letter Governor of Montana Steve Bullock sent him, in case you feel like dropping him a line yourself.

We really do need to have a chat about safety, and priorities, and just what we pay these people for anyway.
We really do need to have a chat about safety, and priorities, and just what we pay these people for anyway. (Source)

Author: Belladonna Took

Well into my second half-century and still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. Born South African, naturalized American, perpetually at risk of losing my balance and landing ass-first in the Atlantic.

13 thoughts on “Quibbling while Montana burns”

  1. Obama may have “signed an emergency declaration”… but his directly appointed minions are doing ‘Sweet Fannie-Adams’ to actually expedite the firefighting.

    The below link will give you the details about how US Dept of Agriculture SecretaryTom Vilsack on Obama’s Cabinet is preventing Montana’s special firefighting helicopters from being used to fight these conflagrations.

    Vilsack is being leaned on HEAVILY by Montana Governor Steve Bullock as well as Montana Senator Steve Daines…. but Secretary Vilsack appears to be dragging his feet because Montana is definitely NOT a state that favors Obama.

    So… Caesar Obama fiddles while Montana burns…. hundreds of thousands of acres of forest are burning due to the political games being played by Obama and his appointees.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I was so interested to see a group of SA firefighters featured on TV, here, returning from Canada. Fires are such scary things – as you know we had our fair share of fire last year, in Cape Town, and in McGregor the year before. Funnily enough, I’ve just started work on a project that’s looking specifically at recognition of prior learning and qualifications for firefighters. People who haven’t experienced fire, don’t “get it”.


    1. I haven’t really experienced it first hand – our South African fires are nothing to the monsters that happen here, where the forests are dense and tall and the trees full of resin. We live out in semi-desert country, where fires happen but they’re more like those I grew up with every Highveld winter – ugly and destructive, but relatively easy to contain. Right now, however, they are very much top-of-mind because for much of the past month the sky has been shades of brown and the horizon has been uncomfortably close. We live just a quarter mile from the Columbia River, and some days the haze is so thick we can’t see it. Because the fires are far away you can’t actually smell the smoke, but it’s pervasive and the gloom is depressing … and every time I’m tempted to complain I’m forced to remember the nightmare being endured by people who could be considered my neighbors.


      1. I know that the vegetation fires in the US make our fynbos fires pale in comparison. I have, however, seen the consequences of fire.

        Some years ago, I had a domestic worker who went to work in the morning and that afternoon went home to a pile of ashes; she never recovered.

        A year ago, we had a fire that raged through the mountains above our house: it was arson and it burnt through inaccessible mountain spots and down on to farms. A farmer whom we know quite well, fought the fire and had to ferry firefighters in and out. One died fighting the fire – he felt terribly responsible.

        And then in the Table Mountain fires, a friend twice had to evacuate. The elderly aunt of another lost her entire home and all their possessions and now has dementia.

        With the mountain fire, here, we had about six weeks of smoke and ash. We went to Cape Town around the time that fire was mostly contained – the smell and pall of smoke were evident from as far away as Worcester.

        The Husband fought numerous fires when he ranched cattle in Zim and has the scars to prove it. He also lost a worker who jumped (out of terror) off his landrover in the middle of a fire when they had to drive through it.

        The haze, ash and the smell are very depressing.


        1. Wow, Fiona – you really have experienced far worse than I have! I have heard about the terrible fynbos fires, but my own experience in South Africa was limited to the highveld, In areas where the grass is long I guess the fires can get fierce, but mostly – thanks to overgrazing and “development” – they just don’t get that bad. What you describe sounds scary, and how terrible for your employee to lose all of whatever little she owned just like that!


    1. Not sure whether you’re referring to the fires or the political idiocy, but either way, Ellen, it’s horrible. Here’s a website with status on fire incidents throughout the US … as you can see, Montana isn’t even the worst hit. Here in Washington we’ve declared a state of emergency; fires that have been burning for weeks may not be under control until late October. Where we live is somewhat out of the way, so I’m not sure what practical help we can offer … I’ve placed an offer of pasture for a couple of displaced horses, and am trying to find out what else members of our community are doing. But the people who are directly affected will need help for months after it’s over – maybe even years.


  3. It seems preposterous to me that they wouldn’t do anything possible to get these fires stopped. I am heartbroken. Every time I think of the fires, my heart aches for the animals dying and being forced out of their homes, not to mention the people too! The word “awful” doesn’t cut it.


  4. There is no common sense in our government any more especially the E P A !! When these idiots get through, we will be back in the dark ages and all freeze and starve to death. !!!


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