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

Montana wildfire update for October 06, 2021

An airplane drops water on the South Moccasin Fire burning northwest of Lewistown, MT.
Kurt Hansen
An airplane drops water on the South Moccasin Fire burning northwest of Lewistown, MT.

The South Moccasin Fire burning northwest of Lewistown in Fergus County grew by more than 1,000 acres overnight, pushed by wind shifts. The fire is nearly 12,800 acres, burning in heavy timber and short grass, mostly on private land.

Five structures have been destroyed, including Yellowstone Public Radio’s transmitter that services the Stanford-Lewistown area. The fire has not destroyed any primary residences. It is 45 percent contained. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Fire crews from county, state and federal resources have been successful in keeping the fire south of Montana Highway 81, the Denton Highway. The road continues to be closed from mile marker 24.8 to mile marker 42 including the junction with US Highway 191.

Unseasonably warm temperatures in the upper 70s, gusty ridgetop winds up to 35 miles an hour and low humidity continue to drive the fire’s behavior.

And in southeast Montana the Coal Bank Fire burning 18 miles southwest of Ashland also grew by nearly one-thousand acres overnight to 11-hundred acres, The Northern Cheyenne Fire Agency reports the fire has crossed into the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

The Coal Bank Fire is showing active fire behavior with wind driven runs and spotting burning in areas affected by previous fire activity. The Northern Rockies Coordination Center reports 13 structures are threatened but none have been destroyed. Federal, state, county and local resources including hand crews, engines and aircraft are working the fire lines.

`The Coal Bank Fire was first reported Tuesday morning and was started by a coal seam. The fire is 6,000 acres and zero percent contained.

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