The Board of Missoula County Commissioners issued an official disaster declaration on Wednesday morning.

Commissioner Dave Strohmaier explained the announcement,

“We declared a state of emergency, and Missoula County adopted a proclamation to that effect because of the threat and the actuality of wildfires in Missoula County,” said Strohmaier. “This is something we do every year, and we do this for floods also. In advance of flood season or fire season we adopt one of these proclamations which essentially sets the stage for a delegation of authority. In the case of wildfires, what this will allow is for the County Commission to conduct evacuations if they became necessary. As part of this, we are delegating authority to incident commanders to make that call, and if it comes to evacuations our Sheriff’s Department would be tasked with actually executing that.”

Strohmaier said the announcement was timely since there is a wildfire burning nearby.

“It just so happens that right now we do have a fire burning up the Rattlesnake, but just based on fire danger indices, we would be taking this precaution regardless,” he said. “The time has come in Missoula and here in the northern Rockies we need to preemptively take these steps so that we’re not scrambling at the last minute,” he said. “This was a recommendation from Adriane Beck who is our Director of the Office of Emergency Management, so we always look to her when the time comes to pull the trigger, so to speak, on these declarations.”

The Beeskove Fire has burned over 200 acres in the Rattlesnake Creek Drainage. Two firefighters have been injured so far while battling the blaze. Both were treated at St. Patrick Hospital.