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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Hot Chainsaw Sparked Missoula-Area Wildfire

Montana DNRC

Investigators say an overheated chainsaw side muffler ignited a wildfire that started yesterday afternoon in Missoula's Miller Creek drainage.

That fire now has a name - The Lost Mine Loop fire. It started Sunday afternoon around 2:00.  A flight survey will arrive today to determine the size of the fire, which is estimated to be greater than 60 acres.

The fire traveled in a northeast direction, originating near the 9000 block of Miller Creek Road. The burning occurred in mostly grassy terrain with portions of timber.  The DNRC's Southwestern Land Office says the fire probably didn't spread too much last night.

Missoula Rural Fire and DNRC Fire crews are currently combating the fire. Two twenty-person hand crews from Grangeville and Deerlodge have arrived in Missoula this morning to assist. Two heavy air tankers  from Helena are on standby at the Missoula International Airport to provide aid if needed. Crews will continue to work protect Northwestern Energy high voltage power lines, critical infrastructure on communication towers and maintain structure protection along Miller Creek Road.

No evacuations have been ordered. No structures are threatened. Miller Creek Road is closed to fire crews and local traffic only. 

Fire officials ask the public to be very careful with all potential fire ignition sources as it's very dry and expected to be another hot afternoon.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.
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