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

Montana Wildfire Update For July 6, 2021

Montana Wildfire News

Updated 5:20 p.m.

Whitten Fire

The Bureau of Land Management Miles City office says the Whitten Wildfire in southeast Montana is contained. The fire, estimated at 1,300 acres, is burning on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, as well as the Bureau of Land Management and private lands. It was first reported on July 3 and the cause is unknown.

Wheeler Fire

No structures are threatened by 2 lightning caused fires in the Custer Gallatin National Forest, reports forest service officials. Fire crews are enforcing fire lines and continuing mop up efforts on the Wheeler Mountain and Blacktail Fires. The Wheeler Mountain Fire is about 7 miles southeast of Gallatin Gateway in the Bear Creek area, and the Blacktail Fire near Blacktail Peak at the northern end of the Bridger Mountains. Both fires are listed at less than an acre in size.

The Right Fire

The Right Fire in Powder River County in southeast Montana is 100% contained, reports the Northern Rockies Coordination Center. The Right Fire, 28 miles southeast of Broadus, was reported on July 3, and burning in short grass, brush and timber. Some structures were threatened.

Robertson Draw Fire and Crooked Creek Fire

Fire managers with theRobertson Draw and Crooked Creek Fires in the Custer Gallatin National Forest report downsizing the management teams on Wednesday. At the final community meeting Monday night, the Red Lodge District Ranger reported the fires will continue to burn for several more weeks.

The Robertson Draw Fire south of Red Lodge is now 69% contained, and the Crooked Creek fire east of Bridger in the Pryor Mountains is now 84% contained. 

Temporary flight restrictions which include drones are still in place over the Robertson Draw and Crooked Creek Fires.

Waterworks Hill Fire 

Credit Freddy Monares
Department of Natural Resources and Conservation helicopter with a water bucket extinguished the grass fire on Waterworks Hill.

A fast-moving grass fire charred about 18 acres in the hills just north of Missoula Tuesday afternoon before it was knocked down.

The fire was first reported at 1:30, racing up Waterworks Hill, a popular hiking area and local open space.

It started just northeast of the Orange Street exit off Interstate 90.

The cause is under investigation.

Fire crews, including a Department of Natural Resources and Conservation helicopter with a water bucket extinguished the grass fire within about an hour.

Missoula County Office of Emergency Management Director Adriane Beck tells Montana Public Radio the fire threatened no lives or structures.

Hot, dry conditions continue to dry fuels out, prompting Missoula County fire protection agencies to raise the fire danger in the Missoula area to VERY HIGH. "Very high" fire danger means that fires start easily from all causes, and immediately spread rapidly and increase quickly in intensity. 

Beck encourages Missoulians to sign up for Smart 911 which enables local officials to immediately alert residents of safety concerns or evacuation notices. 

More information can be found at

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Explore what wildfire means for the West, our planet and our way of life, with Fireline, a six-part series from Montana Public Radio and the University Of Montana College of Business.

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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