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

Power Lines Pinpointed As Cause Of Lump Gulch Fire

Smoke from the Lump Gulch Fire burning south of Helena, MT, June 13, 2020.
Smoke from the Lump Gulch Fire on June 13, 2020.

Fire officials say they now know how a wildfire started last weekend roughly 13 miles south of Helena.

The Lump Gulch Fire took off June 13th during a powerful wind storm. Incident spokesman Duane Buchi explained what officials do know.

“I don’t have the specifics on exactly what occurred,” he said. “In fact, they were still doing some of that as part of the investigation. But they had concluded that it definitely had come from the power lines.”

The Lump Gulch Fire quickly blew up last Saturday, prompting the mandatory evacuation of about 20 homes. Those orders were lifted the next day.

The fire is now listed at 1,070 acres and 65% contained. It is exhibiting quiet behavior and minimal spread, but Buchi cautioned that it may occasionally belch out smoke for weeks to come.

“The interior – where you’ve got all this heavy, heavy dead and down – you know, there’s still some heat in there,” he explained. “And we’re going to get ready to go into kind of a dry and warming trend, and you could occasionally see a smoke column come up from a tree that torches or something like that out of that interior where that fire burned.”

Ninety two firefighters are assigned to the fire.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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