It's no secret the Northwest saw an early start to fire season this year, but as Montana's season was ramping up, other parts of the country's were winding down, freeing up valuable resources to aid in Montana's fight against fire.
The Region one, Region three firefighter exchange program started back in 2007 and has been a valuable asset for both regions ever since.
"We get our monsoons typically the first week in July, which brings on our rainy season which technically gives us relief for our fire season and in turn, that's when you folks start heating up," explains Carson National Forest's Paul Delmarco.
The staggered seasons in Region three, which includes Arizona and New Mexico, and Region one- the panhandle of Idaho and Montana- make an exchange program not only practical but necessary at times.
"They can pull from us without having to go through the rigmarole of trying to get folks through NIFC which is the National fire center and making all the phone calls they have to make. Instead, they just have to make one phone call and I'm here," says Delmarco.
In turn, Delmarco had folks from Montana come to help in the Carson National Forest.
He says in addition to having extra resources, the program provides familiar faces, faces that know one another's personnel and the landscape.
"If they call me right now on the cell phone and say we've got a fire in Little Bear, I don't have to get out a map and call a bunch of times and ask for directions. I know where Little Bear is. We've got a fire in Gardiner or we got a fire in Tom Miner, like we did the other day. It's very simple for me to know the country, know the lay of the land. Then I can get out there a lot quicker," says Delmarco.
It's Michael Kilroy's first time in Bozeman with the program.
He's spent his time fighting the Grassy Mountain blaze, the Bridge Fire, Bozeman Creek fire and the Wildhorse Ridge Fire, to name a few.
"Nothing too large, but it kept us on our toes," says Kilroy.
He says new, steep terrain and hazards like wildlife were some of the biggest challenges this go-round. Yet, he says that's where his training and physical fitness come into play.
"When you're hiking into a fire, you're always assessing potential hazards and terrain as well as weather and all that plays a part in what we do," explains Kilroy.
Yet, the next time he's in Bozeman, his experience will pay off. And he hopes there will be a next time.
"Got to see some fire, some new country, go to meet a lot of new people. Overall, it was a good experience from a fire standpoint as well as a personal experience," says Kilroy.
Kilroy says Montana is not out of the woods yet when it comes to fire season. Though the team is set to leave Saturday, there's a possibility they could return this year.