Unexpected Jet Fuel Shortage Severely Hurts Montana Firefighting Efforts
We've been dealing with a lot of shortages over the course of the past 18 or so months thanks to the pandemic. Some - like toilet paper - were pretty obvious and had a clear impact on people's lives. But others were shortages of things that the average person might not think about all that much, and as a result, might not realize what's being affected. We just talked about the foam shortage that's hitting Montana and causing delivery delays for things like furniture, and now it looks like there's another shortage that's having a significant impact: jet fuel.
And in Montana, that jet fuel is a necessity during this season - in order to contain fires, we typically have firefighting planes near the action. Right now, there are two planes contracted to assist with the Devil's Creek Fire near Fort Peck, but now they're being forced to travel back and forth to Great Falls every day to stock up on fuel. One officer said they've already run Glasgow and Billings out of fuel before they reached Great Falls.
There are a few different factors that could have led to the jet fuel shortage, such as supply chain issues, a lack of pipeline space, or even just a lack of tanker truck drivers due to the pandemic. It's sort of crazy to think about all the different ways COVID has impacted society over the last year, and how those impacts could have ramifications in so many things we didn't expect for years to come.
It's a challenge, but to their credit, those involved appear to be working hard and exploring every avenue to get the job done. In the meantime, Missoula is still under stage II fire restrictions, which you can read about here.