Montana Governor Steve Bullock has honored the Missoula Fire Department and Missoula Rural Fire for responding to a request for assistance with the California wildfires this winter.

Missoula Fire Chief Jason Diehl said he and his department responded to an EMAC request, (Emergency Management Assistance Compact) for interstate mutual aid.

“California was requesting 50 strike teams from Montana and six other states, and we were able to muster two engines and staff them and one of our captains is qualified as a strike team leader,” Diehl said. “We got those guys together along with strike teams from Big Sky and Columbus and another from Missoula Rural Fire, and we were able to form a strike team and get it on the way to California.”

Diehl said fighting fires in Montana is different than in California.

“It’s a much different environment than in Montana, with local wind patterns and vegetation,” he said. “The fire behavior down there can be eye opening for people when they go down there for the first time. When you’re dealing with something that’s so widespread, it’s very challenging to be losing homes and picking and choosing which homes you’re going to be able to protect.”

Diehl said no Montana crew members were injured while they were fighting fires in California, and they returned safely in December and January.