Throughout life I have heard the saying “southern hospitality” without a true sense of what that really meant.

When I return home to Montana from McDowell County I will be able to share the definition with anyone I meet. In 30 years of firefighting I have never experienced the generosity from a community as we have here in Marion or anywhere in McDowell County for that matter.

We all know that having a wildfire in your backyard is not an ideal situation and can cause tremendous stress and anxiety. So to see the response and support of our firefighters, both locally and from across the nation has been incredible.

We have received a plate of cookies here and there in the past, but to roll into a fire camp day after day with snacks, pizzas, socks, Thanksgiving dinners and the like takes the day.

I know the firefighters, most a long ways from home, all appreciated your generosity and hospitality as they went about their day. I also know that when they come to McDowell County in the future, whether on a fire or just a family trip, they will remember the generosity you bestowed upon them.

So to the fine folks of McDowell County I say thank you for thinking of our firefighters, and if you are ever in Montana I hope we can share some western hospitality with you.

-- John Thompson

Incident Commander, Clear Creek Fire

Deer Lodge, Mont.