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

Montana Wildfire Update For August 14, 2020

Montana Wildfire News

The Bear Creek Fire near Lemhi, ID burned actively overnight, growing to an estimated 4,200 acres.

Three large air tankers dropped retardant along the southern portion of the fire line this morning in preparation of a burnout operation scheduled for tonight. An update to Inciweb says the retardant drop is meant to increase the longevity of the fire line and helps ground crews hold the line in lighter fuels.

The fire’s northern flank remains the most active. Fire crews, including eight helicopters, two fixed-wing water scooping airplanes, one Type 2 IA crew, three Type 1 crews, five engines and 193 total personnel, spent yesterday prepping burnout operations in an attempt to start hemming the fire in along existing roads and the Continental Divide. The base for air support is moving closer to the fire and additional resources will be assigned as needed.

Closures remain in effect for Bureau of Land Management lands south of Lemhi Pass Road, west of U.S. Highway 324 and east of the Continental Divide on the Montana side of the state line. A post to Inciweb says all Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest lands adjacent to BLM administered lands (south of Lemhi Pass, west of BLM administered lands, and east of the Continental Divide along the Montana-Idaho Stateline) are closed. Additionally, the Continental Divide Trail on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Salmon-Challis National Forests is closed from Goldstone Pass to Bannock Pass. A portion of the Continental Divide Trail has been rerouted.

Smoke from this lightning-ignited fire is visible as far east as Billings, according to the federally operated Fire and Smoke Map.

Firefighters working the 5 acre Fields Gulch Fire six miles south of Lincoln improved containment to 75 percent Thursday.

The 30 personnel assigned to the fire are beginning to shift into patrol status. A warming trend is expected in the area this weekend. Local crews will continue to monitor and extinguish hot spots as necessary.

The cause of the fire burning in steep, densely timbered terrain is unknown.

In eastern Montana, the Bureau of Land Management reports federal, state and county crews responded to a handful of fires yesterday.

The largest was the Foster Creek Fire burning 750 acres of private land about 37 miles southwest of Miles City. Federal, state and county resources responded That fire is considered contained as of yesterday.

Today federal resources also responded to the 136 acre Cox Fire burning in the Knowlton area in Custer County. Federal and county resources were sent for a smoke check in the same area this afternoon.

Yesterday Custer County firefighters handled the nearly 4 acre 12-Mile Fire on private land nine miles southeast of Miles City. Custer County also responded to the lightning caused one acre Yank Creek Fire 18 miles southwest of Miles City.

Fergus County Disaster and Emergency Services reports the 1,050 acre Judith River Road 2 Fire west of Winifred 70 percent contained as of Aug. 12.

In an interview with KXLO Country Radio Fergus County DES Coordinator Ben Phillips said 100 firefighters are assigned to the blaze. Phillips said they’re planning to move off that fire in the next few days.

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Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.
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