Air quality is rated as “moderate” in much of central and eastern Montana today. Smoke from wildfires burning in western Montana, Idaho and California has been hanging over the region this week, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s Fire and Smoke map. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality advises unusually sensitive people to consider limiting prolonged outdoor activity when air quality is rated “moderate.”
The Patriot Fire was identified late this afternoon 10 miles north of Custer burning 600 acres in grass on private land. Bureau of Land Management and Musselshell County responded for initial attack, according to the Billings Interagency Dispatch Center. The cause of the fire is unknown.
Crews also responded to the 50 acre South Locomotive Fire on Hines Ranch Road in Stillwater County. BIDC reports the county responded.
Two other fires, both under 20 acres were identified this afternoon. One is 42 miles southwest of Miles City and the other 10 miles south of Ashland.
The Flat Creek Fire in Chouteau County grew to 600 acres after it was first detected yesterday afternoon. The human-caused fire is actively burning in short grass and threatening agricultural fields and wildlife habitat. Two federal helicopters and an engine are assigned to the fire, along with 12 personnel.
The Bradley Creek Fire northeast of Big Sky was declared 100 percent contained at 1,870 acres this morning. Firefighting activities have cost an estimated $368,000 as management is returned to local forces. At least 95 people, 10 engines and two water tenders worked on the fire, which burned in grass, sagebrush and juniper. The cause remains unknown.
Crews started to gain a handle on the lightning-caused Lone Star Fire burning 820 acres in Yellowstone National Park and consider the fire seven percent contained. The Grand Loop Road between Old Faithful and West Thumb Junction reopened this morning. The road may close again if or when fire activity increases. Trailheads and picnic areas along this section will remain closed to the public. Thirty-eight people are assigned to the fire burning in lodgepole, spruce and fir.
The Daily Fire 10 miles east of Ashland on the Custer Gallatin National Forest grew to 1,850 acres with 80 percent containment yesterday. Seven structures are threatened by the fire that’s drawn a response from 85 people. Crews spent today improving fireline and mopping up along the fire’s perimeter.
The Hill Fire south of Glasgow was declared 100 percent contained at 3,275 acres today. The Bureau of Land Management led firefighting efforts on the blaze that started last Friday. Crews will continue to monitor the fire and rehabilitate the area.
The Sage Fire outside Oswego on the Fort Peck Reservation was also declared 100 percent contained today at 2,509 acres. Bureau of Indian Affairs crews will continue to secure containment lines, mop up and monitor.
Yesterday, fire activity and growth was minimal on the Cinnabar Fire. Firefighters worked to construct and improve indirect line and hose lays. Smoke in the area has decreased and clear skies bring higher daytime temperatures with lower humidity. Crews plan to continue suppression efforts and work to improve fire lines and fuel breaks.
The Bear Creek Fire continues to burn more than 11,600 acres in the Lemhi Pass area. The fire is 70 percent contained. Yesterday, crews mopped-up and worked on rehabilitation of fire lines and berms created while fighting the fire. Crews will continue with similar operations in the coming days. The majority of resources will be working to coordinate and complete suppression repair and rehabilitation with resource advisors and private landowners. Demobilization of resources no longer needed will continue over the next few days.