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

Wildfire Danger Moves To Moderate In Missoula County

A National Forest Service fire danger sign.
Bitterroot National Forest

Missoula’s recent warm and dry conditions have prompted officials to push local fire danger from low to moderate. According to the Missoula County Fire Protection Association that means outdoor debris burning season closes June 7.

The Association, made up of local, state and federal fire agencies, says even though grasses still look green, dead forest fuels are rapidly drying out.

Debris burning season closed last week in Flathead and northern Lake Counties. Open burning resumes there October first, or as conditions allow.

The National Interagency Fire Center is predicting an above normal fire potential in western Montana this summer. That has fire officials on edge. The global pandemic complicates firefighting work this year.

Firefighting strategies used to protect property and resources will look different as firefighters also try to protect themselves from COVID-19

Lightning caused fires kept wildland firefighters busy over the Independence Day weekend.

The West Armells Fire 20 miles south of Forsyth grew 86 acres last night due to burn out effects and is now 480 acres and 80 percent contained.

The lightning caused fire started July 4 on private land 20 miles south of Forsyth and has been burning in timber and tall grass.

Eight fire personnel from Rosebud County and three engines are continuing the mop up work and securing fire lines. The fire, so far, has cost an estimated $25,000 to fight.

The Elk Creek Fire is another lightning caused fire burning on private land 28 southwest of Miles City. This fire started at the end of June is being fought by Custer County fire personnel and is estimated at 174 acres.

And the 10 acre lightning caused South Fork fire that started on Sunday southwest of Lame Deer was reported contained as of late Monday morning.

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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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