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

Montana Wildfire Update For August 10, 2020

Montana Wildfire News

Firefighters around Montana are using all available resources to contain wildfires and keep them as small as possible as part of a national strategy to limit the spread of the coronavirus among firefighting personnel.

A wildfire burning south of Lincoln in the Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest is holding steady at 5 acres but is zero percent contained. The Fields Gulch Fire was first spotted by the Stonewall Lookout on August 6 burning in dense timber, steep terrain and beetle killed trees. The cause of the fire is unknown.

Firefighters, including hot shots from Idaho, two single engine air tankers and two helicopters have contained the 54 acre Lost Canyon Fire located southeast of Pryor on the Crow Indian Reservation.  The lightning-caused fire started Thursday night was contained on Saturday with a crew of Crow firefighters mopping up embers on Sunday.

The 450 acre lightning-caused Duck Creek-McCone Fire burning south of Brockton in northeast Montana is 70 percent contained.

The lightning-caused Judith River Road 2 Fire burning west of Winifred in central Montana is 60 percent contained with the help of 9 engines, 5 helicopters and 8 air tankers. The size is currently estimated at just over 1,100 acres.

The Old Baldy Fire burning in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest has been holding at 129 acres due to efforts by firefighters and aviation resources. The fire is 90 percent contained and the cause is unknown.

The 3,500 acre lightning-caused Magpie Rock Fire on the Flathead Reservation is 75 percent contained. As of Sunday there were 160 people working the fire with 6 engines and 24 air tankers. The Magpie Rock Fire was first reported July 27.

Critical Fire Weather Conditions for central and southwest Montana August 10 -11. Updated 08-10-20 2:49 p.m.
Credit National Weather Service Great Falls, MT.
Critical Fire Weather Conditions for central and southwest Montana August 10 -11. Updated 08-10-20 2:49 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for critical fire weather in effect from noon Tuesday through Wednesday night for a large swath of central and southwest Montana. Temperatures in the 80s - 90s along with 10-20 percent relative humidity and gusty west winds are expected to create conditions where fires can ignite quickly and spread rapidly. Because of the fire weather conditions around Montana, much of the state is under stage 1 fire restrictions or burns bans until further notice.

A small grass fire on the Flathead Indian Reservation that ignited Sunday had a tragic start but was quickly brought under control. Rural fire departments and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal firefighters made quick work of a 2 acre grassfire northwest of Ravalli started when a black bear cub climbed a power pole, was electrocuted and fell, starting the grass fire.

CT Camel, CSKT fire management specialist, said it happened on an important day.

"It was on Smokey Bear’s Birthday, his 76th birthday."

Camel says this is not the first time a wild animal has climbed this power pole. A couple of years ago a squirrel ran up the same pole, met the same, tragic end, fell and started a grass fire. Camel says he doesn't know what the attraction is to this particular power pole.

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