Heroic response to Boulder Fire
| August 7, 2021 12:00 AM
The winds picked up, abruptly shifted directions, and within a few frantic hours Aug. 1 the Boulder 2700 Fire had jumped Montana 35 east of Polson. Under mandatory evacuations, residents around Finley Point fled the scene in the middle of the night, leaving their homes and possessions behind.
Sadly, more than two dozen structures were consumed in the firestorm that night, including eight homes.
Yet, it could have been much worse. Thanks to the heroic efforts of local rural fire departments and first responders, no one was injured and dozens of other homes were saved from the flames.
“We all rushed in, got under the fire and identified where it was coming out,” described CSKT Division of Fire Director Ron Swaney, who was among the initial responders.
They also identified at-risk structures and began telling people to leave the area.
“They put themselves in the line of this fire, so much that they’re blessed,” to still be alive, praised Lake County Sheriff Don Bell.
The crew at Finley Point/Yellow Bay Fire Department deserves particular credit for their response and for helping keep residents informed of the quickly changing scenario though social media posts.
Meanwhile, the American Red Cross promptly set up a shelter in Polson for displaced residents and visitors, while businesses and organizations like the Polson Chamber of Commerce chipped in with needed supplies and warm meals. And by early Sunday morning, Life Savers Animal Rescue had set up an animal rescue assistance site at the shelter.
True character is often revealed in a time of crisis. Polson residents and those along Flathead Lake’s east shore should be proud of the mettle and generosity displayed by their neighbors over the last week. We’re confident this community will continue to stay strong and rally around each other as the battle against this wildfire goes on.