Montana Public Radio

Montana Wildfire Update For October 08, 2020

17 hours ago

Firefighters are battling a wildfire near Marion and the Hubbart Dam. The 120-acre blaze is zero percent contained.

Montana Department of Natural Resources’ Kalispell Fire Management Officer Jeremy Pris says there are 50 firefighters, several pieces of heavy equipment and three helicopters on scene. The Hubbart Dam Fire started Tuesday afternoon.

"So there are structures within two miles of the fire. At this point, things are looking good. We’re trying to get that containment number up for the winds that are forecasted through today and tomorrow."

The cause of the fire is under investigation. While containment is at 0 percent, firefighters have been able to establish an initial dozer line around the fire.

Pris says this fire is coming late in the season but the large fire growth is still possible with strong winds and dry conditions. Weather forecasts call for rain and snow over the weekend, but in the meantime, fire danger remains high for the lower elevations of Flathead County.

Firefighters working on the 3,900 acre Yogo Fire in the Little Belt Mountains are being tested for the third time this week with another red flag warning through Thursday night, bringing hot temperatures, low humidity and strong gusty winds to central Montana.

Incident Commander Matt Plagenz said the fire crews are well positioned to slow the progress of the fire today. Crews and 4 helicopters have been working to keep the fire from spreading towards recreational residences in the Middle Fork and Dry Wolf Creek areas.

There are no evacuation orders but many trails are closed in the Judith Ranger District of the Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest.

The Yogo Fire is zero percent contained and the cause is under investigation.

The Burley Fire, burning in timber and short grass west of Broadus in Powder River County is 50 percent contained. The 2,600 acre fire began on private land Tuesday and has grown onto Bureau of Land Management land.

Air tankers, helicopters, engines and crews from federal, state and local agencies have been working the north, south and west flanks of the fire.

The cause of the Burley Fire is under investigation.

The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings in effect until 9 p.m. Thursday for north-central, central and south-central Montana, and much of northern Wyoming.

Unseasonably hot temperatures for October, strong gusty winds and low humidity can create erratic fire behavior and new fire starts.

Judith Basin County in central Montana will enter Stage 1 fire restrictions starting Friday at 12:01 a.m. Campfires will be prohibited, as will smoking outside, unless standing on a barren surface. The burn ban includes all private, state and Bureau of Land Management lands with the county. It does not include the Judith and Musselshell Ranger District of the Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Stage-1 fire restrictions are also in effect for all land in Golden Valley and Wheatland Counties, while Petroleum and Roosevelt Counties are rescinding restrictions effective on Friday.

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