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

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 16, 2016

The Incident Command Post of the Roaring Lion Fire on August 15, 2016
The Incident Command Post of the Roaring Lion Fire on August 15, 2016

The latest on wildfires around western Montana.

Last Update: 5:45 p.m. 08/16/16

A fire that started north of Belgrade yesterday afternoon has burned over 200 acres, according to The Bozeman Chronicle. More than 20 people have been evacuated and several structures have been saved by firefighters.

Central Valley Fire has activated trucks, teams, and helicopters to help fight the blaze. Retardant and water were dropped yesterday evening.

The Black Mountain Fire burning northwest of Lincoln was discovered around noon today. 25 personnel are assigned to the 5 acre blaze burning in thick timber. No structures are threatened by the fire, but smoke is visible from Lincoln and nearby areas.

Firefighters are attacking two new wildfires in Yellowstone National Park. All tourist areas and major roads are open, but officials have determined that the fires could eventually pose a threat and need to be extinguished. Both fires began yesterday. One is about 4 miles north of West Yellowstone, and the other is near West Thumb, just off the Grand Loop Road. Firefighters are attacking both fires with air tankers and helicopters. Several other fires burning in remote areas of the park are being monitored.

Update: 9:53 a.m. 08/16/16

Yesterday, lookouts on Ward Mountain near the Roaring Lion Fire stopped fire activity from spreading outside of the "Ward bowl" area, using helicopters and Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) to drop buckets of water and retardant to "box in" the fire. The overall activity of the fire did not exceed 37 acres.

Officials are cautious about inserting ground resources into the Ward bowl area due to its rugged and difficult terrain. For now, using aerial resources is the most effective method.

Crews on the 8,274 acre fire are expecting increased fire activity today in conjunction with increased temperatures and low humidity. Although a Canadian cold front is expected to move through the area on Thursday, green fuels will likely continue to dry out and burn until then.

The Roaring Lion Fire is now 70 percent contained.

In Yellowstone National Park, a group of three small fires are now being called The Buffalo Complex, made up of the 1,100 acre Maple Fire, the 97 acre Buffalo Fire, and the 936 acre Fawn Fire. None of the fires pose a threat to people or structures within the park, and are being allowed to burn for the benefit of the forest ecosystems.

The Copper King Fire, located eight miles outside of Thompson Falls and one mile north of Highway 200, has increased in size and decreased in personnel. The fire is now 1,930 acres with 197 people working towards containment. After a massive 200 acre increase over the weekend, crews are still prioritizing setting up water hoses and sprinklers around vulnerable structures, as well as limiting the fire's overall footprint.

The Buckeye Canyon area is drawing much attention from the Type 3 team, where they hope to work towards more suppression and containment. The fire, which was identified on July 31, is 20 percent contained.

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