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Montana PBS Producer Wins Northwest Emmy Award

Gus Chambers, a television producer for the Broadcast Media Center at The University of Montana and Montana PBS, recently received an Emmy Award from the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Chambers was recognized for Individual Accomplishment in Audio for his historical documentary "Hidden Fire: The Great Butte Explosion" at a June 7 ceremony held in Seattle.

The documentary revived the forgotten story of devastating explosions in Butte in January 1895 that destroyed a large section of the warehouse district. The blasts killed 57 people, including most of the members of the newly formed Butte Fire Department.

Chambers re-created the explosions using scale models and small explosive charges. To emphasize the impact of the blasts, he layered multiple tracks of audio, including many he recorded in the studio.

Chambers says he’s happy that the judges recognized his extra effort. "It’s great to be acknowledged for something that nobody does anymore," he said. "It’s kind of old-fashioned to make it up rather than just use a sound effects track."

"Hidden Fire: The Great Butte Explosion" is the highest-rated local documentary ever broadcast on Montana PBS, said KUFM-TV General Manager William Marcus.

"The re-creations were central to the program’s impact and, when you think about it, the video would have been much less impressive without the sound track," Marcus said.

The Northwest Emmy Awards recognize accomplishments in news, documentary and individual achievement by producers, reporters and television anchors in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.