Montana Public Radio

Montana Wildfire Update For September 06, 2020

Sep 6, 2020

Find the most recent daily update

9/6/20, 9:10 p.m.

The Bridger Foothills Fire is burning about 7,000 acres in the Bridger Mountains northeast of Bozeman and is 0 percent contained. Smoke is visible throughout much of the Gallatin Valley. The fire started on Friday afternoon near what’s locally known as the 'M trail'. Evacuations and road closures are in effect in the area.

According to Inciweb, there was extreme fire activity on Saturday due to the high temperatures, low relative humidity, and sustained high winds. 

The Montana DNRC confirmed that the fire was so hot, three firefighters had to deploy their fire shelters as the blaze burned through their location on Saturday. According to the DNRC, they got out safely after the fire had passed, and have now been treated and released from Bozeman Health. 

Bridger Canyon Road is closed from Story Mill to Sedan. Evacuations have been ordered for Kelly Canyon, Jackson Creek, and all of Bridger Canyon. Skunk Creek, Brackett Creek and Moffitt Creek are under evacuation warnings. Others in the area who have not been told to evacuate are encouraged to do so voluntarily.

Residents who have been evacuated from Bridger Canyon will be allowed to temporarily return home on Monday (9/7) between 8 AM and 12 PM. The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office says residents must be prepared to check in and out with law enforcement by providing their names, addresses, phone numbers, ID, and a verification of residence. Please note this does NOT include the area from Stone Creek to Brackett Creek, which will remain closed. 

The Park County Sheriff's Office is also issuing evacuation warnings to residents of Quinn Creek. Fleshman Creek, O'rea Cree, Willow Creek, and all small areas in between, according to their Facebook page. 

People evacuating from Bridger Canyon, Sept. 5, 2020. The Bridger Foothills Fire threatened homes and forced evacuations near the fire, which started near the 'M trail' just northeast of Bozeman, Mt.
Credit inciweb

Authorities are requesting that people stay away from Bridger Canyon, Kelly Canyon and Jackson Creek areas, and not to call 911 unless they are directly impacted by the fire. All roads and trails in the Bridgers and Bangtail Mountains are closed until further notice. 

All open burning has been banned in Gallatin County through September 8. The ban includes all burn barrels, field burning, recreational fires, and campfires. There is also a temporary flight restriction for the area.

Fire officials say some structures have been lost and they will follow up with homeowners as soon as possible. According to the Sheriff's Office Facebook page, Bridger Bowl is so far untouched by the fire.

Multiple agencies are sending ground and air resources to the Bridger Foothills fire, including air tankers, helicopters, hotshot crews, smokejumpers, handcrews, structure protection strike teams and engines. Management will switch from Unified Command to a Type 1 Incident Management Team on Monday. The cause of the wildfire is still under investigation. 

For those displaced by the Bridger Foothills Fire, the Montana Red Cross is opening an evacuation center. The center is located at Christ the King Luther Church, 4383 Durston Road in Bozeman. According to their Facebook post, the Red Cross will provide water, snacks, and updated information. They will also help connect families with community resources. Red Cross services are free and open to all, and masks are required. To request services, call 1-800-272-6668.

The Bridger Foothills Fire northeast of Bozeman, MT, on the morning of Sept. 6, 2020.
Credit inciweb

The Bobcat Fire south of Roundup in Musselshell County was very active on Saturday.

According to a post on the Musselshell County Disaster and Emergency Services Facebook page on Sunday afternoon, the fire has not yet crossed Highway 87.

Hwy 87 is now open to both directions of traffic between Roundup and Billings. DES is asking people to drive carefully and reduce speed because the area is still dangerous. 

The evacuation notice has also been lifted for the west side of Hwy 87 South of Roundup. Residents of the following roads only may return to their properties: Juniper Road, East Side Drive Hopkins Road, Ambush Road, Treetop Road, Canyon Road, Mountain View Road, Pinetop Road, Jenkins Road, Gallagher Road, Aspen Drive, Three Forks Way, Hampton Road, Shortcut Road, McCord Road, Dillman Road, Kuhns Road, Matthew Road, Kitty Hawk Lane and Cody Road. 

An area closure remains in effect for residents of Johnny's Coal Road, Fattig Creek Raod, Turkey Trot Drive, Bruner Mountain Road, Pine Cone Lane, Lookout Lane, Taylor Mesa Lane, Spring Hollow Lane and Otter Trail.

The Type 2 Incident Management Team reports that the Johnny's Coal Subdivision, Bruner Mountain Subdivision, Old Divide Subdivision, and remote structures dispersed along Fattig Creek Road and the Signal Peak Coal mine continue to be threatened by fire spread. 

Musselshell County DES says new evacuation orders will be delivered through reverse 911 or Code Red for people who have signed up for those notification services. DES adds that anyone feeling threatened by fire conditions should not wait to evacuate. Law enforcement will attempt to evacuate homeowners but due to rapidly changing nature of the fire residents are encouraged to not wait.

The fire is burning in tall grass mixed with ponderosa pine stands and sagebrush. It’s estimated to be 26,463 acres as of Sunday morning.

A red flag warning is in effect through Sunday. A cold front approaching Sunday is expected to bring stronger and shifting winds. Sunday into Monday presents a chance of wedding rain, less than .25 inches. An update to Inciweb says lower temperatures bring the opportunity for direct attack of the fire.

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