Fires have consumed more than half a million acres across Montana so far this season, and Michigan wildland firefighters are playing critical roles in helping put them out.

Surrounded by smoke, constantly watching the wind and trying to tamp down fast-moving flames, Michigan Department of Natural Resources firefighters using two specially equipped fire trucks have been helping battle grass and forest wildfires in Montana since mid- July.

They may do what firefighters call “black lining” – purposely burning a strip of grass to deprive an approaching wildfire of fuel and stop it in its tracks.

Or they may “wet line” – dousing combustible materials in the path of a fire to keep a blaze from spreading.

Or they might, during a breather from work, do what any of us would: Whip out cell phones to shoot a quick video as a low-flying tanker plane releases a belly full of water over a hot spot of burning trees, brush or grass.

Michigan firefighters also are serving in Oregon and Washington state now and spent time in Arizona and British Columbia earlier this summer.

Bonus Video: Kalamazoo 911 Memorial Stair Climb