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

Montana Wildfire Roundup For September 1, 2015


In general it’s been another fairly quiet day for wildfires in Montana, with cooler temperatures and higher humidities in the northwest.

But, between Helena and Great Falls, Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation reported an active fire day on fires near Holter Lake.

Authorities closed Lower Holter Lake so that helicopters could safely pull water to attack the Bray Fire just east of Wolf Creek. That fire, which was reported Sunday afternoon, is now estimated at about 600 acres in size. It was zero percent contained as of this morning.

Up around Libby, firefighters reported minimal fire spread on the Goat Rock Complex of 7 fires burning about 8,500 acres in Lincoln and Sanders County.

Further north, around Noxon and Clark Fork Idaho, some of the nearly 400 people fighting fires on the Clark Fork Complex have started demobilizing. One of those fires had forced some residents along Highway 56 out of their houses for nearly two weeks. Evacuations in the area were lifted at 6:00 this morning. Officials at a public meeting in Troy last night said that there’s still a lot of fire on the ground in the area and that fire season is far from over.

Southwest of Alberton the 12,000 acre West Fork Fish Creek Fire was that started August 14 was at zero percent containment as of this morning. Some 300 people remain evacuated from that fire, and today public safety staff were offering to escort some people back to their homes for limited access based on urgent need.

On the Thompson Complex near Essex, authorities say, "low pressure weather patterns will continue to effect the fire complex area through the weekend. Temperatures will range between 65-72 degrees with higher humidity. There will be a chance for occasional light rain with periods of gusty winds. The fire activity today is expected to be minimal and give firefighters opportunities for building fireline."

West of Heart Butte fire officials reported limited growth on the four fires there that have consumed more than 57,000 acres, but they faced a forecast for red flag conditions today. The evacuation of Heart Butte was partially lifted yesterday.

The 6pm update for the Willow Creek Fire near northwest of Livingston says: "The helicopter helped by dousing hot spots today, while crews continued to join together dozer and hand lines on the fire. Additional firefighters carefully sought out any heat that may be hiding out ahead of the main body of the fire. As of tonight there is containment line around 52% of the fire. There is also a fair amount of natural barriers on the eastern flank of the fire that is not included in the containment percentage.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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