The western United States has been hit hard over the last decade by what are being called 'Mega Fires', and a public event to discuss the issue is planned for Missoula.

Director for the Office of Emergency management Adriane Beck, said the event will be held on April 24th at the University Center Theater on the UM campus.

"Our office, Missoula County and several of our land management agencies are working together to bring a production to Missoula to discuss what has been dubbed 'The Era of Megafires." Beck said. "It's a 70 minute presentation by Dr. Paul Hessburg, who is a research ecologist. The film will be followed by a Q and A session."

Beck said part of the dynamic in Missoula is the encroachment by home builders into what is called the wildland urban interface.

"In western Montana, we have a large part of our landscape in what is classified as the wildland urban interface, where people live in and near the forest," she said. "It's a very real risk that we have regarding the threat of wildfires, so this is an opportunity to not only have those discussions with citizens, but also, what we as emergency managers and land managers are doing to mitigate those risks."

Following the film, there will be a discussion period to share ideas about how to minimize the dangers involved in what are being called 'megafires' or fires that grow to over 100,000 acres in size.

Beck said even though the presentation is free, there is limited seating, so registration to attend is required. Click here to visit the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network, with information on how to register.

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