Montana Public Radio

Nicky Ouellet

Yellowstone Public Radio News Director

Nicky Ouellet is the  Yellowstone Public Radio news director and MTPR's former Flathead-area reporter.

603-568-6155 or 406-730-2264

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Various fire restrictions blanket at least half of Montana as a heat wave tightens its grip across the northern Rockies. Hot temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds have prompted Red Flag Warnings for portions of Central and North Central Montana through Monday evening. That means critical fire weather conditions are, or will soon, occur.

The Bear Creek Fire near Lemhi, ID burned actively overnight, growing to an estimated 4,200 acres.

Three large air tankers dropped retardant along the southern portion of the fire line this morning in preparation of a burnout operation scheduled for tonight. An update to Inciweb says the retardant drop is meant to increase the longevity of the fire line and helps ground crews hold the line in lighter fuels.

The Bear Creek Fire near Lemhi, ID was mapped last night, doubling the size estimate to nearly 4,000 acres and zero percent contained. The fire is sending smoke across southwest and central Montana. Officials expect extreme fire behavior to continue today.

Bureau of Land Management lands southeast of Salmon along the Montana state line are closed, as is a section of the Continental Divide Trail.

A man wearing a COVID-19 mask.
iStock

The big coronavirus news in the Treasure State this week is the new mask mandate, and that testing for anyone not showing COVID-19 symptoms is about to hit a big pause.

Corin Cates-Carney and Nicky Ouellet walk you through this week's developments, including when and where the mask mandate applies.

A newly formed group in southeast Montana is drumming up support to add and improve river access, camping and roads along more than 160 miles of the Yellowstone River.

The Lower Yellowstone River Coalition formed earlier this year to support economic development and expand tourism along the river corridor east of Billings.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock June 17 announced a new $125 million loan deferment program aimed at aiding businesses hurting from the novel coronavirus pandemic.


Wildland fire managers told Governor Steve Bullock June 16 in a 2020 fire season briefing they’re ready for what could become an above average fire year made even more complicated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Fire hose.
Inciweb

Pre-evacuation notices were lifted Tuesday for about 20 homes threatened by the Lump Gulch Fire burning south of Helena in Jefferson County. Strong winds caused the fire to grow quickly this weekend.

John Tubbs, Director of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, says he doesn't know how those homes were spared.

COVID-19 guidelines for tourists during phase 2 of Montana's reopening.
Montana Disaster and Emergency Services

On June 1, Montana will enter into Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. MTPR's Corin Cates-Carney and YPR's Nicky Ouellet explain what that means for individuals, businesses and tourists.

Find more information about what COVID-19 restrictions are in place in Montana.

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry issued more than 55,000 unemployment payments totaling $60 million last week.

The total includes regular unemployment payments, expanded pandemic assistance and the $600 weekly addition from the federal CARES Act.

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