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Montana Highway Patrol Radio Tower Destroyed by Forest Fire

A radio tower belonging to the Montana Highway Patrol fell victim to a forest fire that rushed up the side of a hill in the southeastern portion of the state.

The 75-foot communications tower was left standing but severely compromised by the heat, Major Tom Butler, highway patrol spokesman, told AGL Bulletin.

The highway patrol plans to replace the tower, which broadcasted dispatch communications to nine counties, as part of the state’s transition to digital communications, being paid for by a Homeland Security grant.  The structure is one of more than 90 mountaintop sites in the system, which also includes numerous collocated antennas.

After losing the tower, highway patrolman relied on data communications through the Verizon Wireless network and migrated to local county dispatch centers to maintain communications.

The highway patrol is currently collocating antennas on a tower owned by Northwestern Energy, a site it will use until the new tower is built.