Montana Forest Fire Affects RML
A forest fire erupted on the afternoon of July 31 in the Bitterroot Mountains, about 5 miles southwest of NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana.
As shown in the photo taken by local Office of Research Facilities staff, the firestorm appeared to hover over the RML Integrated Research Facility. The blaze forced 24 RML staff to evacuate their homes for nearly a week and destroyed one employee’s home. In all, more than 800 residents were evacuated; 16 homes burned, as did 49 sheds, barns and garages. The fire did not threaten RML structures, but prompted employees to revisit procedures and protocols for emergency situations. RML leadership effectively used an incident command structure to keep its 450 staffers informed of fire developments, smoke mitigation and fire evacuation plans and personnel leave options.
The NIH Recreation and Welfare Association branch at RML raised about $2,700 for the 10 local volunteer fire departments that responded to the fire. The organization coordinated about 40 RML volunteers to assist co-workers with evacuation needs.