Montana Public Radio

Montana Wildfire Update For September 08, 2020

Sep 8, 2020

Cool, wet conditions are helping firefighters who are working a 7,000 acre wildfire northeast of Bozeman that started Friday. The Bridger Foothills Fire has prompted the evacuation of over 200 people.

Tuesday's high temperatures in the Bozeman-area barely cracked 50 degrees and overnight lows are again expected to dip just below freezing. Monday ushered in widespread wetting rains and high elevation snow.

"It definitely is a help," says incident spokeswoman Mariah Leuschen-Lonergan. "It’s pretty minimal fire behavior today. It’s a really good day for freighters to make progress, both on mopping up, extinguishing embers and on fire line building."

But Leuschen-Lonergan says there’s still a lot of work to do, and warns temperatures will gradually warm throughout the week.

The fire destroyed houses and structures. Officials Tuesday were still inventorying the losses and did not release any specifics. Nor have they announced how the fire started.

"It’s still very much under investigation," Leuschen-Lonergan says.

While some evacuation orders were lifted late Monday, others are still in place. Bridger Canyon Road from Story Mill Road to Sedan remains closed to non-residents.

Musselshell County residents forced out of their homes by the nearly 47 square mile Bobcat Fire are back home, accessing the damage caused by the fire that’s burned timber and grass. The fire is 50 percent contained and the cause of is unknown.

The Northern Rockies Incident Management team overseeing the firefighting reports 10 primary residences and 13 secondary structures have been lost in the fire but more damage may be found. Firefighters are also concentrating on heavier fuels like down longs and standing dead trees that are slow to absorb Monday’s moisture and are still smoking and holding heat. Firefighters are working to cool hot spots and build containment lines around structures.

Musselshell County Disaster and Emergency Services reminds people there are temporary flight restrictions in place for air space over the Bobcat Fire. One incident involving a drone has been reported. Drones ground overhead aircraft and the Northern Rockies Coordination Center reports there have been some 80 overhead aircraft from various agencies which have been used on the fire since it was detected September 2.

So far the Bobcat Fire has cost nearly $3 million to fight.

Monday’s precipitation and cooler temperatures helped the 101 fire personnel fighting the 81 square mile Sarpy Fire burning in ponderosa pine and short grass on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations. The Sarpy Fire is considered 70 percent contained. The cause is undetermined.

Tracy Spang, acting fire management officer reports that despite the rain on Monday several days of rehabilitation and mop-up remain for the fire crews.

The Snider and Rice Fires that burned more than 73 square miles of pine, juniper and grass north of Ashland have reached 100 percent containment and fire resources are being demobilized.

The 73 square mile human caused Huff Fire that forced evacuations in Jordan last Wednesday is reported as 100 percent contained. Garfield County Disaster and Emergency Services report local ranchers lost 200 sheep, an unknown number of cows and 20 secondary buildings but no primary residences.

The lightning caused Lone Star Fire south of Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park is reported at 75 percent contained. Fire crews continue fuel reduction work in the infrastructure area around Old Faithful. That fire is about 5 square miles in size and has cost nearly $1.2 million to fight.