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Volunteer who lost her home to fire brings comfort to others

Montana Red Cross Responds to Wildfires
I wouldn’t have it any other way. We want to do this.

GREAT FALLS, MONTANA, Sept. 6, 2017 — A Red Cross emergency response vehicle loaded with food, water, snacks, blankets and hygiene kits has been deployed to the Seeley Lake and Ovando areas to help those affected by wildfires.

The vehicle, which looks much like an ambulance, arrived in Missoula from Billings on Tuesday. Red Cross partners including Albertsons, the Montana Food Bank Network and the Missoula Food Bank are teaming up to keep the emergency vehicle stocked.

Red Cross volunteers Sherrilyn Hamilton, from the Roundup area, and Kent Jay, from Hardin, are staffing the vehicle.

“I love it,” Hamilton said as the two made their way from Missoula to the Seeley area. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. We want to do this.”

Hamilton knows all too well how important this job is, having been on the receiving end of Red Cross wildfire relief efforts. In 2012, her family’s home in the Bull Mountains was destroyed by the Dahl fire and the Red Cross was there to help. That inspired her to become a volunteer.

“I was pretty much ready to join after that,” she said.

Hamilton and Jay will visit Seeley Lake area campsites, including Camp Paxson where some evacuees are staying in cabins, RVs and trailers. They will assess needs and offer food, water and comfort to those who need it.

The Seeley area has been especially hard hit by wildfire this summer. The Rice Ridge fire, burning north and east of Seeley Lake, has burned close to 120,000 acres and is less than 5 percent contained. Air quality there has been extremely poor.

Because of severe drought, Montana has faced an incredibly active wildfire season affecting all corners of the state. Over the Labor Day weekend alone, the American Red Cross opened six more shelters across Montana and has opened 16 shelters in response to the state’s wildfires since early July.

To support Montana wildfire relief, make a donation to the Montana Disaster Relief Fund. This fund supports Red Cross relief efforts in Montana for disasters such as wildfires. To do this, mail a check to Red Cross of Montana, 1300 28th St. S., Great Falls, MT 59405, and write Montana Disaster Relief Fund on the memo line. You also can call 800-ARC-MONT and request that your donation be used for the Montana Disaster Relief Fund.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or