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

Montana Wildfire Roundup For July 11, 2016

Firefighter watches a tree torch on July 9, 2016.

The latest news on wildfires around western Montana.

Last Updated: 4:00 p.m. 07/11/16

Missoula County fire danger has been downgraded to "Moderate". Debris burning remains prohibited and officials urge the public to be cautious when dealing with any ignition sources.

Observation Fire

The 1,429 acre fire burning 10 miles south of Hamilton went from 30 percent contained, to 90 percent contained over the weekend, thanks to substantial rain and low temperatures.

"Now that 10 percent that we’re not considering contained is the part of the fire that grew up into the rocks, and it’s really too steep, with too much scree-rock to put boots on the ground up there," said Fire Information Officer Ann Rys-Sikora.

The fire, which last week had over 600 personnel working on containment, now has just 269. Officials say teams are currently downsizing, returning to local functions, and demobilizing as containment goals are met.

There has been a substantial line developed around the north, east, and south parts of the perimeter. The steep and inaccessible terrain on the southwest side will likely have a presence until much later in the season.

Rys-Sikora says that recent rain was not enough to be considered a "season-ending event" for the southwest side of the fire.

"The typical 'season-ending event,' and I put that phrase in quotes, that we get here in the northern Rockies, usually comes in the third week of August or Labor Day weekend. We can get a cold front that comes in, usually from an Alaska low, that really brings fresh snow to the mountains after the summer."

Rys-Sikora says the Type One Incident Management Team working the fire will hand off duties to a smaller local team tomorrow morning.

"We’re not confirming that the fire is completely dead out in the interior, but we feel really secure about having a perimeter all the way around."

The fire received an inch of rain in the last 48 hours.

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