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The Holmes Gulch fire could have been a disaster for the city of Helena. We were fortunate that the lightning bolt struck ground on the south (back) side of Mt. Ascension instead of on the north (city) side of the mountain. That little bit of pure luck, plus the rapid response by several agencies and departments, may well have saved the day for the Capital City.

The departments and agencies involved have been working and training together for years now in anticipation of this very type of event. Their planning and preparation paid off as these folks swung into action, working together professionally and naturally. I’d like to express Helena’s most heartfelt thanks to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, to Jefferson County, the Montana City Fire Department, the Tri-County Fire Working Group and to everyone else involved. And, to our own Helena Fire Department. Thanks to these efforts we were — and we are — about as ready as we can be for a catastrophic wildfire on the city’s borders. The other element that was most encouraging was the understanding and cooperation of the residents in the Holmes Gulch area and the citizens in the South Hills. Many thanks to one and all.

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We await and will welcome the first autumn rains and winter storms. Finally, our condolences go out to our sister cities around the state that are still battling these wildfires.

Jim Smith is the mayor of Helena. 


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