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American Legion responds to devastating fires

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News from American Legion of Montana

HELENA — The devasting December fires that severely impacted Denton, the Gibson Flats area near Great Falls, and Browning has activated the Montana Department of the American Legion call for action in support of veterans and their families as well as the communities.

At the direction of Glen Sharbono, State Commander, the American Legion is issuing a challenge to all 122 of its posts and veterans at large to participate in the rebuilding of the community infrastructure in the affected areas. They are asking each post, auxiliary unit, Sons of the American Legion squadron, and individual legionnaires to donate funds, services, and moral support to this effort.  

The following report was provided by Robert Miller, Post Commander, American Legion Post 62 in Denton:

“The fire that ripped through Denton on Dec. 2 destroyed or damaged approximately 25 Homes and buildings. Six of the homes that were destroyed or damaged belong to American Legion Post #62 members. Two of the homes that were destroyed belonged to a last surviving WWII veteran and a disabled Vietnam veteran. The other four homes were damaged by smoke, flames and water and may or may not be a total loss. Most of Post #62’s veterans are on fixed incomes.  Insurance claims can take a little time and Christmas is almost here. I would like to challenge Montana’s legion posts and legionnaires to donate to the cause.”

A Denton Fire Relief Fund has been opened. Checks can be made payable to the Denton Fire Relief Fund and mailed to Farmers State Bank, a division of Opportunity Bank of Montana, at P.O. Box 1047, Denton, MT 59430. Checks and donations may also be made to any of the 24 Opportunity Bank branches across Montana. All donations received will be managed locally and are fully tax deductible. Questions may be directed to Brandi Schweigert, Opportunity Bank vice president/regional retail manager, at 406-932-5317 or to Austin Mapston, Denton High School alum, at 406-350-0463.

In Great Falls, legionnaire Barney Cooper lost his home in the fire and did not have insurance.  He is currently working with the Red Cross and other agencies for assistance, but Barney lost everything.  Community members have started a “Go Fund Me” account for Barney to help rebuild his home. If you would like to contribute to the cause, please visit the fundraiser by Beth Waters: “Help Barney Cooper rebuild his home.”

The Browning fire was contained to around 500 acres and does not appear to have impacted homes or buildings. If you know of a fellow legionnaire or veteran directly impacted by the fire, please contact The Department of Montana American Legion.

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