NBC Montana: West Yellowstone residents voice concerns over Tatanka Complex

BOZEMAN, Mont. – The half dozen fires burning in Yellowstone National Park are now called the Tatanka Complex.

Fire officials in West Yellowstone held a community meeting Monday night where residents voiced their concerns about the fire. As black smoke continues to rise from the fires, many residents are worried.

“Oh, I’m saying my prayers like crazy,” said Duck Creek resident Jim Criner. He was one of more than 200 residents at a community meeting to learn more about the fire.

Officials presented maps showing people where the fire perimeter was and the direction it’s heading.

Strong winds and dry weather have a Montana senator and firefighters on alert.

“We want to make sure we have all the resources to ensure the community stays safe, the road stays open and we can protect these very important assets here around West Yellowstone,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana).

Officials handed out fact sheets and maps to help residents understand more about the fires. They even handed out fire action plans to help them plan for an emergency.

Sasha Jevtich is a seasonal resident who works closely with the fire community. He and others looked at maps of the fire after the meeting.

“We took a ride into the park just to check things out for ourselves. You know, as you look at the maps, it is kind of scary. It does looks like it’s rather close to town,” he said. As scary as it can look, he said having the fire eat away at what is fueling it now, is good for the future.

Even so, the fire still makes residents like Criner nervous. He was around for the 1988 fires and saw how close those got to his neighborhood.

“The area between where the fire is and where we are in Duck Creek, is nothing but high grass and willows. The fire would move across the area really fast if it reached us,” he said.

Although many in West Yellowstone are used to Montana’s fire season, seeing dark plumes just a few miles away is always a concern.

Residents who wish to receive emergency notifications about the fire or any other event in the area, can sign up at readygallatin.com.