It's back to school time for most university students Monday, August 26, but instead of pencils and paper, many prospective Montana students are still lugging around firefighting equipment. Luckily, the Montana University System is working to help alleviate the stress those students might have in trying to make it to class before the bell rings.

"Because of the severity of fires in the region, we wanted to give students an opportunity to be able to save their classes and their housing assignments until they can get back off the fire line," said University of Montana Interim Registrar Joe Hickman. "We are asking students to call our fire line hotline at (406) 243-6599. There's a 24 hour message system there that will ask students to give their name, their I.D. number, what agency they're working for, and whether or not they are in university housing. We will gather that information and let their instructors know that students may be late getting to class. We will reserve their class seats and their housing assignments for them until they can get in and pay their bills."

The delay will allow firefighting students to delay their registration until September 16.

"Our fire line just started on Tuesday and calls have been ramping up," Hickman said. "We know that recently the National Guard and some military reservist have also been mobilized to help with the fire situation. We are not sure what the impact might be, but we want to remind students that we want them in class as soon as possible. If they can't get there, we understand. We don't want them on the fire line thinking about their registration and their classes. We want to be able to save those for them."

Joe Hickman: