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

Forest officials want the public's help in Plant Creek Fire investigation

Flames from the Plant Creek Fire on the Missoula Ranger District, taken on Oct. 18, 2021.
Lolo National Forest, Missoula Ranger District
Flames from the Plant Creek Fire on the Missoula Ranger District, taken on Oct. 18, 2021.

Suppression efforts continue on a 30 acre wildfire burning outside Missoula. The investigation into its cause is underway and law enforcement is now asking for the public’s help.

Firefighters made good progress suppressing the 30 acre Plant Creek Fire nine miles southeast of Missoula after it was first reported Monday. It’s now 50 percent contained.

Forest Service law enforcement is asking for the public’s help in identifying the driver of a black and red off-road side-by-side driven in the Miller Creek area Sunday afternoon.

Investigators believe the driver; a white, bald, middle-aged man accompanied by two children, may have information regarding the fire’s cause.

That cause hasn’t yet been determined, but Lolo National Forest officials say exploding targets are a possible cause. Exploding targets consist of two ingredients that when mixed, explode when shot by a firearm round.

Cooler, wet conditions expected later this week are expected to aid suppression efforts.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at