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

Montana Wildfire Update For August 31, 2020

Montana Wildfire News

Cloudy skies, wetting rains and significantly cooler weather had a calming effect today on fires burning in Montana and central Idaho.

Crews are wrapping up work on the Bear Creek Fire that’s scorched almost 12,000 acres about 30-miles east of Salmon, Idaho. The fire is now 85-percent contained. Crews are now mopping up hot spots and working on repair and rehabilitation in areas affected by firefighting efforts.

Another Idaho wildfire, the 2,700-acre Shissler Fire, which has sent smoke into Montana over the past couple of weeks, is now 15-percent contained. In that incident’s final update today officials said snow, cooler temperatures and higher humidity has moderated fire behavior.

The lightning-caused Drumming Fire continues its creep through the understory about 25 miles east of Essex, Montana. Eleven firefighters are working that 400-acre blaze which is belching smoke visible from communities along the Continental Divide.

At least 268 firefighters continue their work to suppress the 2,100-acre Cinnabar Fire that has closed the Lolo National Forest’s Welcome Creek Wilderness, along with some roads and trails outside the wilderness boundary.

Forecasts call for Western Montana's temperatures to climb back into the 80s Tuesday, and into the low 90s by Friday.

Rain showers and possible snow flurries are expected to help subdue the lightning-caused Lone Star Fire burning 960 acres in Yellowstone National Park. But the warming and drying weather trend predicted for later in the week could cause fire to flare back up. Fire officials say the fire is 35 percent contained. Crews report the northwest flank of the fire burning south of Old Faithful was the most active Sunday, with some single tree torching. Crews worked on protecting key infrastructure around Old Faithful and the cabins behind Snow Lodge on Sunday.

Cooler temperatures are expected to aid the 35 fire personnel fighting in the Prairie Dog Fire burning on forest service land south of Ashland in southeast Montana. The lightning-caused fire is burning in timber and tall grass and is threatening several structures. The 140 acre fire is 50 percent contained.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the eastern two-thirds of Montana, as well as northcentral Wyoming, starting noon Tuesday through midnight Wednesday.

NWS reports that low humidity, hot temperatures and strong gusty winds paired with an incoming cold front will create erratic fire behavior, which could last the rest of the week.  No precipitation is expected with this weather system.

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation reminds everyone to recreate and work responsibly during times of critical fire danger, and avoid any activity that may create flames or sparks.

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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.  
(406) 243-4065
Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.
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