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

Montana Wildfire Update For August 11, 2021

Montana Wildfire News

The 150,000-acre Richard Spring Fire burning south of Colstrip across the Northern Cheyenne reservation is 15 percent contained as of Wednesday afternoon.

Evacuations are in place for Ashland, Lame Deer, North Tongue River, Highway 212, Rabbit Town, St. Labre campus and the Amish community, according to fire officials and Inciweb. Pre-evacuation is in effect for Rosebud Creek, Greenleaf Creek and Cherry Creek.

Red Cross services and shelter are available in Crow Agency, Busby and Broadus, and the Colstrip Saddle Club is offering space for evacuees to keep their horses.

The fire Wednesday jumped Highway U.S. 212, which is now closed, and drivers needing to enter or exit Lame Deer should take Highway 39 according to the Rosebud County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Tongue River Electric Cooperative says the public should be aware of downed, possibly active power lines and poles. The electric utility says it may take 3 to 5 days for the utility to restore power.

The sheriff’s office also warns local drivers that a low-hanging power line is down over Greenleaf Road, between Rosebud Creek Road and Tongue River.

A Type 2 Incident Management Team is taking command today.

Inciweb says the fire is burning in brush, short grass and timber with extreme behavior and fire runs driven by winds, and it may increase in the dry, hot weather. A red flag warning remains in effect for the area, which is seeing temperatures in the low to mid 90s according to the National Weather Service.

FEMA is directing money to firefighting efforts.

The Woods Creek Fire burning 16 miles northeast of Townsend is nearly 47,000 acres and 3 percent contained, according to Inciweb. The Broadwater County Sheriff's Office Wednesday lifted mandatory evacuation orders for Upper Duck Creek Road, Upper Gurnett Creek Road, Upper Confederate Road, Ambush Drive, Battle Drive and everything from Upper Gurnett to White's Gulch east and west of Highway 284. The end of Dry Gulch, North, Middle and South Ray Creek Roads, Upper Cottonwood, North Fork and Log Cabin Road are still in pre-evacuation.

The Lake County Sheriff’s office Wednesday reopened Highway 35 to local traffic on the east side of Flathead Lake near the Boulder 2700 Fire. Drivers in the area should be aware as firefighters are still working in the area.

The Montana Department of Transportation will escort traffic along the highway between mile markers nine and 11. The speed limit will be reduced to 35 miles per hour because fire crews will be cutting down trees, moving debris, and power and internet companies are working to restore utilities. Officials say drivers should not stop along the highway because of those hazards.

The Boulder 2700 Fire has burned down 20 structures a few miles east of Polson. Officials say the fire continues to dry out from a rain event Saturday. The fire isn’t expected to grow over the next few days until fuels become significantly drier.

The West Lolo Complex Fire in Sanders County is 15 percent contained at almost 23,000 acres. The Sanders County Sheriff announced Wednesday that homes in the Harlow area are back to pre-evacuation warning status, and houses in the Snider and Copper King areas of Lower Thompson River are in pre-evacuation status.


These wildfire updates prioritize the latest information on incidents that could impact public health and safety. This is not a comprehensive list of fires burning in the state. The fires we report on will vary as information changes.

Richard Spring Fire

August 11, 2021 4 p.m.

Location: Southwest of Colstrip

Size: 150,000 acres

Containment: 15%

Evacuation orders and warnings: Evacuations are in place for Ashland, Lame Deer, North Tongue River, Highway 212, Rabbit Town, St. Labre campus and the Amish community according to fire officials and Inciweb. Pre-evacuation notices are in effect on the lower Rosebud Creek from Greenleaf Creek to Cherry Creek.

The Montana Red Cross has opened an emergency evacuation shelter in Lame Deer for residents displaced by the Richard Spring Fire and is located at the Boys & Girls Club of the Northern Cheyenne Nation at 101 Cheyenne Ave. in Lame Deer. Evacuees can also go to the Broadus Elementary School at 518 Trautman Ave. in Broadus.

Major closures:

Conditions: 

Cause: Undetermined

More fire information: 

Meetings:

Destruction:

Cost: 

Christensen Fire

Updated August 11, 2:13 p.m.

Location: 12 miles west of Wise River, located on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

Size: 8,766 acres

Containment: 10%

Evacuation orders and warnings:

Major closures: Forest Closure Orders are in effect for the fire area, see Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest closures here https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/bdnf/alerts-notices

Highway 43 and Pioneer Byway remain open. Motorists are asked to slow down and be on the alert for firefighters, heavy smoke, and downed trees. Please check the Montana DOT Road Report website https://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfomobile for current conditions.

Continental Divide Trail: Closed from Lemhi Pass north to Mussigbrod Creek.

Big Hole National Battlefield is closed until further notice. North and South VanHouten, Miner Lakes, Twin Lakes, May Creek and Divide Bridge Campgrounds are closed.

Forest Closure orders are in effect for all three fires.

Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/bdnf/alerts-notices

Salmon-Challis NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/scnf/alerts-notices

Conditions: Today we saw plenty of sunshine early, with high clouds moving in from the north throughout the afternoon as a cold front dropped southeast across central and eastern Montana. Temperatures warmed into the mid to upper 70s, as relative humidity values dropped to 15 to 20 percent range. Gusty west to northwest winds also occurred across the fire today.

Cause: Unknown

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7702/

Black Mountain Fire

Updated August 11, 2:10 p.m.

Location: 13 miles south of Jackson, MT and east of Skinner Lake and Skinner Meadows in both the Dillon and Wisdom Ranger Districts.

Size: 1,042

Containment: 75%

Evacuation orders and warnings: 

Stage 1 evacuation Highway 43 from Mile Marker 35 to the County Line at Mile Marker 41.5. This includes the residents of Doolittle Creek Road and North Doolittle Creek Road. Southside of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Dickie Bridge. Westside of the Scenic Byway from the

Wisdom Airport to Harriette Lou Road.

All evacuation status was removed in Alder Creek drainage and Southside of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Mile Marker 62.

Lemhi County Sheriff has contacted residences in threatened areas on the west side of the Trail

Creek Fire in Idaho and placed in “Set” evacuation status. Info: 208-756-8980

Major closures: Continental Divide Trail: Closed from Lemhi Pass north to Mussigbrod Creek.

Big Hole National Battlefield is closed until further notice.

North and South VanHouten, Miner Lakes, Twin Lakes, May Creek and Divide Bridge Campgrounds are closed.

Forest Closure orders are in effect for all three fires.

Conditions: Sunshine early, with high clouds moving in from the north throughout the afternoon as a cold front dropped southeast across central and eastern Montana. Temperatures warmed into the mid to upper 70s, as relative humidity values dropped to 15 to 20 percent range. Gusty west to northwest winds also occurred across the fire today.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7691/

Alder Creek Fire

Updated August 11, 2:07 p.m.

Location: About 7 miles west of Wise River in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

Size: 11,800 acres

Containment: 10%

Evacuation orders and warnings: 

Stage 1 evacuation Highway 43 from Mile Marker 35 to the County Line at Mile Marker 41.5. This includes the residents of Doolittle Creek Road and North Doolittle Creek Road.

South side of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Dickie Bridge.

West side of the Scenic Byway from the Wisdom Airport to Harriette Lou Road.

All evacuation orders were removed in Alder Creek drainage and Southside of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Mile Marker 62.

Lemhi County Sheriff has contacted residences in threatened areas on the west side of the Trail Creek Fire in Idaho and placed in “Set” evacuation status. Info: 208-756-8980.

Major closures: Closures for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest here.

Highway 43 and Pioneer Byway remain open. Motorists are asked to slow down and be on the alert for firefighters, heavy smoke, and downed trees. Please check the Montana DOT Road Report website https://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfomobile for current conditions.

Continental Divide Trail: Closed from Lemhi Pass north to Mussigbrod Creek.

Big Hole National Battlefield is closed until further notice.

North and South VanHouten, Miner Lakes, Twin Lakes, May Creek and Divide Bridge Campgrounds are closed.

Forest Closure orders are in effect for all three fires.

Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/bdnf/alerts-notices

Salmon-Challis NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/scnf/alerts-notices

Conditions: Sunshine early, with high clouds moving in from the north throughout the afternoon as a cold front dropped southeast across central and eastern Montana. Temperatures warmed into the mid to upper 70s, as relative humidity values dropped to the 15 to 20 percent range. Gusty west to northwest winds also occurred across the fire today.

Cause: Unknown

More fire information: https://www.facebook.com/AlderCreekandTrailCreekFires

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7641/

Trail Creek Fire

Updated August 11, 1:55 p.m.

Location: 20 miles West of Wisdom, MT on HWY 43

Size: 35,965 acres

Containment: 26%

Evacuation orders and warnings: Stage 1 evacuation Highway 43 from Mile Marker 35 to the County Line at Mile Marker 41.5. This includes the residents of Doolittle Creek Road and North Doolittle Creek Road.

South side of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Dickie Bridge.

West side of the Scenic Byway from the Wisdom Airport to Harriette Lou Road.

All evacuation status removed in Alder Creek drainage and Southside of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Mile Marker 62.

Lemhi County Sheriff has contacted residences in threatened areas on the west side of the Trail Creek Fire in Idaho and placed in “Set” evacuation status. Info: 208-756-8980.

Major closures: Highway 43 and Pioneer Byway remain open. Motorists are asked to slow down and be on the alert for firefighters, heavy smoke, and downed trees. Please check the Montana DOT Road Report website https://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfomobile for current conditions.

Continental Divide Trail: Closed from Lemhi Pass north to Mussigbrod Creek.

Big Hole National Battlefield is closed until further notice.

North and South VanHouten, Miner Lakes, Twin Lakes, May Creek and Divide Bridge Campgrounds are closed.

Forest Closure orders are in effect

Conditions: Wednesday will be another warmer and dry day, with mostly sunny conditions. Temperatures are expected to climb into the 70s across the higher elevations, and 80s down across the lower elevations and in the valleys. Gusty west to northwest winds are expected to persist.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7634/

Meetings:

Destruction:

Cost:

Harris Mountain Fire

Updated August 11, 1:55 p.m.

Location: 10 miles southeast of Cascade

Size: 31,591 acres

Containment: 51%

Evacuation orders and warnings: As of August 9, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office rescinded all evacuation orders and pre-evacuation notices related to the Harris Mountain Fire in Cascade County.

Cause: Lightning

Conditions: Partly cloudy and breezy with temperatures in the mid 80s with northwest winds 13-18 mph and gusts up 28 mph in the afternoon. The fire area will be between an area of high pressure over the Great Basin and a large area of low pressure over north central Canada today. A disturbance rotating around the low will bring a cold front from the northeast across central Montana late this afternoon and tonight. This will bring northeast winds tonight and cooler temperatures on Thursday. There will be enough moisture to bring a few showers along the front. Temperatures will rebound quickly Friday and Saturday.

Meetings: A final community meeting will be on Friday, August 13 at 10 a.m., Wedsworth Hall, 13 Front Street South, Cascade, MT

More Fire Information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7719/63395/

Woods Creek Fire

Updated August 11, 1:48 p.m.

Location: 16 miles NE of Townsend, MT, near Boulder Lakes in the Big Belt Mountains.

Size: 46,691 acres

Containment: 3%

Evacuation orders and warnings: As of August 9, Park Co Sheriff’s Office has moved Shields River Road residents back to pre-evacuation status. Meager County has done the same with the Smith Creek area. This is due to favorable weather and fire behavior but could change as needed. The county roads in the area are open; however, there are still closures in the forest.

Conditions: Partly cloudy skies this morning with good relative humidity recoveries over the Woods Creek fire with west winds. Today will see breezy west to northwest winds at the ridge tops and lower elevation with ridgetop gust to 40 mph. Winds turn from the NW overnight and Wednesday.

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7649/

Balsinger Fire

Updated August 11, 1:45 p.m.

Location: Balsinger West of Neihart, MT. Ellis Fire 20 miles NW of White Sulphur Springs.

Size: 9,834 acres

Containment: 45%

Evacuation orders and warnings: An evacuation order for Belt Park, issued by the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, remains in place.

A pre-evacuation order was issued for the area from the Belt Creek Ranger Station to Monarch and from west of Monarch to the confluence of Pilgrim Creek and Belt Creek.

Major Closures: All National Forest Systems lands, including all roads and trails within the boundary of the following area, except as stated below, are closed

Conditions: Partly cloudy skies this morning with good relative humidity recoveries over the Balsinger fire. Today will see breezy west to northwest winds at the ridge tops and lower elevation with ridgetop gust to 40 mph. Winds turn from the NW overnight and Wednesday. Above normal temperatures are expected from Wednesday through the weekend with afternoon relative humidity values dropping below 20 percent. Diminished fire behavior today is expected on all divisions due to recent rainfall, but areas of heat will show back up as fuels dry. Firefighters will watch for smoldering heat.

Cause: lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7624/63332/

Meetings:

American Fork Fire

Updated August 11, 1:29 p.m.

Acreage: 19,028

Containment: 10%

Start date: July 17, 2021

Cause: Lightning

Personnel: 87

Location: 24 miles southwest of Harlowton, Montana.

Conditions: Partly cloudy skies this morning. The American Fork fire had fair recoveries into the low 40's. West winds remained elevated overnight at American Fork with gusts to 40 mph. Today will see breezy west to northwest winds at the ridge tops and lower elevation with ridgetop gust to 40 mph. Winds turn from the NW overnight and Wednesday.

Evacuation and Warnings: As of August 9, Park Co Sheriff’s Office has moved Shields River Road residents back to pre-evacuation status. Meager County has done the same with the Smith Creek area. This is due to favorable weather and fire behavior but could change as needed. The county roads in the area are open; however, there are still closures in the forest.

Burnt Peak Fire

Updated August 11, 1:25 p.m.

Location: Approx 9 miles southwest of Troy, MT

Size: 3,583 acres

Containment: 46%

Evacuation orders and warnings: Residences in North Fork Keeler Creek are on pre-evacuation notice. All residents should be ready to leave if evacuations are necessary.

Major Closures:

Conditions: While clouds were present yesterday, the warming and drying trend was on display as temperatures were up a fair amount and humidity down in comparison to Monday. Friday and Saturday currently look to be the warmest days of the week with highs in the triple digits for the lowlands and humidity values plummeting into the teens. Changes are in store for the beginning of next week, deviating from the hot and dry pattern currently encompassing the region.

Cause: Lightning

More Fire Information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7696/

South Yaak Fire

Updated: August 11 1:20 p.m.

Location: 4 miles northwest of Troy, Montana.

Size: 10,388

Containment: 44%

Evacuation orders and warnings: Residences on East Side Road, Kilbrennan Lake Road, 17 Mile Creek, and Sylvanite are on pre-evacuation notice. All residents should be ready to leave if evacuations are necessary.

Major closures: As of August 8, 2021, Closure Order D04-076-S-21 is now in effect on the Three Rivers Ranger District for the Callahan Creek Road 427 and Callahan Historic Trail 153. The restriction is in place for public safety due to fire management activities related to the Burnt Peak Fire: www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd938562.pdf

Conditions: While clouds were present yesterday, the warming and drying trend was on display as temperatures were up a fair amount and humidity down in comparison to Monday. Friday and Saturday currently look to be the warmest days of the week with highs in the triple digits for the lowlands and humidity values plummeting into the teens. Changes are in store for the beginning of next week, deviating from the hot and dry pattern currently encompassing the region.

Cause: Lightning

More Fire Information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7696/

Boulder 2700 Fire

Updated August 11, 11:57 p.m.

Location: In the Mission Mountains east of Flathead Lake, and eight miles east of Polson, MT

Size: 2,072 Acres

Containment: 36%

Evacuation orders and warnings: Beginning Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. the Lake County Sheriff’s Office is lifting the evacuation stage 3 (“Go”) status for property owners in the fire area along Highway 35 from mile markers 9 to 11. The Montana Department of Transportation will escort local traffic through these two miles of the highway with pilot cars from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Residents in this area transition to stage 2 (“Set”) of the “Ready-Set-Go” plan for wildfire evacuation status and should be prepared to evacuate if the fire activity increases.

Major closures: Highway 35 will reopen to local traffic. The speed limit is reduced to 35 mph from mile markers 6 to 13 for public and firefighter safety.

Drivers need to be aware of existing hazards in the fire area including suppression and tree felling activities, rolling rocks and debris, smoke, firefighter engines and crew vehicles, aircraft, and utility vehicles. Do not stop in the fire area due to all these hazards.

Both Mission Valley Power and Century Link continue to restore power and internet services to the area. Skilled sawyers may also still be conducting hazard tree removal along the highway corridor. Traffic may be held up during these operations. Finally, power could be intermittent as infrastructure repair and replacement work continues.

Conditions: Weather is getting hotter and drier. However, with fuels in various stages of drying out, fire behavior is expected to be minimal with continued smoldering.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7754/63405/

Meetings:

Destruction:

Cost:

Dry Cabin Fire

Updated August 11, 11:50 a.m.

Location: 20 miles north of Ovando, MT

Size: 3,060 acres

Containment: 0% containment

Evacuation Orders and Warnings: 

Major closures: For public safety, area closures are in place. Lolo National Forest Dry Fork area: affected closed trails include Dry Fork and upper Dry Fork #31 (all segments) at North Fork Cabin, Whiskey Cutoff #369, Cabin Creek #80, and Dwight Creek #414 and Canyon Creek #16 at the wilderness boundary. The main North Fork Trail #32 is OPEN, but #377 Sarbo Creek and the upper portions of Hobnail Tom #32.2 and Evans Peak #361 are CLOSED.

Flathead National Forest Danaher area: affected closed trails include the Eastside South Fork Trail #126 from junction with Rapid Creek #142 south to boundary with Lolo National Forest, including connecting trails Alloy Creek #265, Calf Creek #277, Spring Creek #144, Bar Creek #140, Limestone Pass #143, Blackfoot Divide #278. Alternate routes include Stadler Pass to Benchmark, Jenny Creek/Youngs Pass to Lodgepole TH, and Youngs Creek via Pyramid Pass to Pyramid TH.

Cause: Lightning

Conditions: Higher temperatures mid-week are anticipated to dry out fuels.

Closures: Area and Trail Closures in Effect in Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wildernesses Due to Dry Cabin Fire

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7660/63404/

Hay Creek Fire

Updated August 11, 11:44 a.m.

Location: Approximately 4 miles west of Polebridge, Montana

Size: 2,894 acres

Containment: 30% containment

Evacuation Orders and Warnings: Evacuation Warnings include all residences east and west of the North Fork Road from Home Ranch Bottoms north to Moose Creek Road and the community of Polebridge. Glacier National Park has issued an Evacuation Warning for the North Fork area of Glacier National Park north of Logging Creek.

Major closures: Various regional closures https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7712/62192/

Conditions: Sunny skies with warmer temperatures and decreased winds at 10 to 15 mph are expected today. Look for highs in the 70s with some valley bottoms rising into the lower 80s. A wind shift to the northeast is expected tonight through Thursday night, before turning back to the SW on Friday.

Cause: Lightning/natural

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7712/63406/

Meetings: There will be a community meeting at the Sondreson Hall on Wednesday, August 11, at 6 p.m.

Destruction: 

Cost: 

West Lolo Complex

Updated August 11, 11:36 a.m.

Location: West Lolo Complex includes the Thorne Creek Fire, near Thompson Falls, MT

Size: 22,739 Acres

Containment: 15%

Evacuation orders and warnings: Evac Order: all residences in the Harlow and Ashley zones. Pre-Evac/Warning: all residences in the Graves NE and Graves SE zones.

Major closures: 

Conditions: Temperatures will continue to climb with high temperatures in the 80s on the fire and humidity levels dropping into the twenties. Winds will be gusty this morning, 15 to 25 mph., but are expected to calm heading into the afternoon and evening. Temperatures are expected to continue to warm with decreasing humidity levels through the end of the week.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7620/63398/

Meetings:

Destruction:

Cost: 

Granite Pass Complex

Updated August 11, 11:30 a.m.

Location: Multiple locations near Lolo Pass

Size: 5,739 acres

Containment: 15%

Evacuation orders and warnings: 

Major closures:

Conditions: The gradual warming and drying trend continues today as a ridge builds over the region bringing warmer temperatures and lower levels of relative humidity. Temperatures will be slightly warmer and drier than Tuesday. Winds gusts around 20 mph are expected at the fire area. Temperatures are forecast to be back in the mid to upper 80s by the end of the week.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7653/63417/

Meetings: 

Destruction: 

Cost: $8.4 million

Goose Fire

Updated August 10, 1:20 p.m.

Location: 32 miles SSE of Ennis, MT near Hoodoo Pass

Size: 7,522 acres

Containment: 90%

Evacuation orders and warnings : 

Major closures: As of August 7 - https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd938376.pdf

Conditions: Red Flag warning in effect from noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday. An approaching cold front will keep winds southwesterly and rain showers are expected to begin after 8 a.m. tomorrow morning with thunderstorms starting after 2 p.m. Monday looks to be partly cloudy with a slight chance of rain in the morning.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7618/

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