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

Montana Wildfire Roundup For July 31, 2018

A Smokey Bear model stands next to a sign reading "fire danger very high today."
Josh Burnham
Fire danger.

Since Monday, one new fire has been discovered in the Kootenai National Forest. The Ten Mile Fire is burning 15 to 20 acres in the Rexford and Fortine Ranger Districts. That brings to 21 the number of lightning-caused fires discovered on the Kootenai since this weekend.

Kootenai National Forest spokesperson Shawn Ray-Delmas says the Davis Fire, the largest there, is now reported at 150-200 acres in size. She says all the fires are remote and not threatening any structures. Multiple helicopters, air tankers and ground crews are responding to the fires.

Fire danger remains “very high” in the Kootenai National Forest. And today the Flathead National Forest boosted its fire danger to “very high,” too.

The Flathead Beacon reports that firefighters caught a small fire Monday inside Glacier National Park, and were mopping it up today near Essex.

Smoke from fires in California and Oregon is visible in Western Montana today, bringing air quality in the area to “moderate.”

Sarah Coefield, an air quality specialist at Missoula Public Health, says the haze remains high in the sky, but wind coming in later this week will push some of that smoke elsewhere.

"We’ll start to see air coming in hopefully from a cleaner location, where we’re not getting smoke from those fires."

Coefield says we can expect more smoke coming in from fires to the west, but the bulk of our air quality depends on fires burning in the local area.

"With the conditions we’re seeing across the region, there’s just a very high likelihood of more fires. You know, traditionally, wildfire season was in August, so there’s a whole another month of likelihood of ignition in the region."

Coefield recommends that Montanans create a clean space in their homes with a True HEPA air filter to make sure they have a livable space as smoky weather comes in.

On the Highway 37 Fire, no new groth was reported yesterday. The 70-acre fire near Libby is 60 percent contained, according to Inciweb. Fire fighters continue to extingush hot spots and work on strengthening the lines.

No new perimeter growth has been seen on the Bacon Rind Fire in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. Smoke is visible from Highway 191, but the fire isn't threatening any structures, and there are no closures in place.

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