Shortly after two wildfires occurred in late August in the Helena area, federal, state and local officials sent out a news release touting that fuel-reduction work in the wildland area helped lay the groundwork for the swift suppression of the blazes. Local officials said this preparation was years in the making and the work continues. The Grizzly Gulch fire started Aug. 26 and was kept to about 25 acres and the Mount Helena fire, on the cusp of Last Chance Gulch, started Aug. 28 and was kept to about 18 acres. Management to reduce fuel accumulations in this area worked exactly as it should, officials said. With reduced fire intensity – a direct result of active management – staff have more options to safely manage wildfires. …Brad Langsather, Helena Parks, Recreation and Open Lands Department said they have been able to increase the space between trees and increase the height from the forest floor to the canopy.