A Red Lodge firefighter suffered severe burn injuries on Friday (7/16), when a wildfire that crews were battling near Joliet shifted directions and burned over his emergency vehicle.

According to Red Lodge Fire Rescue's Facebook page, Dan Steffensen was injured while working the Harris Fire alongside Scott Wilson on Friday, when "strong winds suddenly shifted towards them," and they were overrun by rapidly spreading wildfires.

Red Lodge Firefighter undergoes first surgery at burn center in Salt Lake City

While Wilson was uninjured, Steffensen was flown to Salt Lake City where he was admitted to the University of Utah burn center in serious condition, and had his "first of many surgical procedures" completed today (Monday 7/19), according to the post on Facebook.

His first surgery was "successful," and according to Red Lodge Fire Rescue, Steffensen was alert following the procedure and was "communicating with the family and firefighters that are with him."

Firefighter of the Year may take 6 months to recover from burns

Dan Steffensen, a firefighter with Red Lodge since 2015, will be in recovery for about 6 months in Salt Lake City, according to the post. He was named volunteer "Firefighter of the Year" in 2017, and is a nationally qualified wildland firefighter, according to the post on the Red Lodge Fire Rescue page.

We’d like to thank the wildland firefighting community for reaching out to us with offers of help and words of support. Please keep Dan and his family in your thoughts and prayers during these difficult times. This event is a reminder that firefighting is dangerous and we are truly grateful to those who answer the call to help others in time of need. -Fire Chief Tom Kuntz

How to support Dan Steffensen with healing and recovery

A GoFundMe donation page has been set up for those wanting to support Dan Steffensen and his family, with more information available by clicking HERE.

At the time this story was published, the fundraiser for Dan Steffensen was almost at 50 percent of the $100,000 goal, collecting $49,170.

Yellowstone Co. Sheriff Shares Dramatic Video of Airplane Battling Montana Wildfire

With a message of "special thanks" to everyone on the front lines of the wildfires in Montana, YCSO posted a video on their Facebook page showing a firefighting airplane dropping retardant on a wildfire in Yellowstone County.

One post on Facebook suggested the firefighting aircraft is from Neptune Aviation from Missoula, Montana.

Ways to prevent wildfires

As our brave Montana firefighters continue to battle through the heat, and an already overwhelming wildfire season, let's do our part to keep wildfires from starting. Remember to keep vehicles off dry grass, make sure campfires are cold to touch before leaving them, secure your towing chains, and keep your cigarette butts in your vehicle ashtray.

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