Montana Public Radio


Firefighters are battling two large wildfires amid red flag conditions in southeast Montana Thursday.

The nearly 600 acre Gass Flats Fire and the 600-800 acre Tolluck Fire are burning within two miles of each other southeast of Custer in southeast Montana. The two fires are separated by steep and rough terrain.

Wildfires’ Toxic Air Leaves Damage Long After the Smoke Clears

Sep 23, 2020

SEELEY LAKE, Mont. — When researchers arrived in this town tucked in the Northern Rockies three years ago, they could still smell the smoke a day after it cleared from devastating wildfires. Their plan was to chart how long it took for people to recover from living for seven weeks surrounded by relentless smoke.

They still don’t know, because most residents haven’t recovered. In fact, they’ve gotten worse.

Firefighters are racing to control multiple lightning caused wildfires in southcentral and southeast Montana before gusty winds and warm temperatures are expected to descend on the region tomorrow Thursday.

Talking about Montana's environment, our public lands and waterways, is one of the fastest ways for politicians to gain credibility here. After all, about a third of the land in this state belongs to you and me. Big, sprawling swaths of natural beauty are a defining feature of Montana. So much so, the preamble to the Constitution goes on at length about the state's landscape. The quiet beauty of our state. The grandeur of our mountains. The vastness of our rolling plains.

But when politicians talk about protecting our outdoor heritage in Montana, what exactly are they protecting and whose interests are they serving?

Firefighting Costs Montana $10 Million

Sep 21, 2020

This year 1,876 fires have burned more than 406 square miles in Montana.

The price tag to date on Montana’s share of this year’s fighting costs is $10 million, according to information Bullock shared at a news conference Wednesday.

He said while 50 some homes and some people’s means of livelihoods burned, Montanans have been fortunate that no lives have been lost to the burns at home.

"It’s still significant for the communities that have been impacted, that homes have been lost," Bullock said.

Satellite image shows smoke from fires on the west coast blanketing the northwest U.S. Sept. 15, 2020.
NASA Worldview

The deadly wildfires scorching the west coast have produced smoke that has reached the east coast and Europe. The smoke started seeping into Montana last weekend. 

Health care professionals say it’s taking a toll on our bodies and our minds. MTPR's Edward O'Brien reports.

Firefighters in southeast Montana are dealing with another large wildfire started by a coal seam.

The critical fire weather and poor air quality across much of Montana will last at least until the end of the week.

Almost half of the state’s air monitoring stations bounced between "Unhealthy" and "Moderate" air quality readings Monday afternoon

Satellite image showing smoke movving toward western Montana.
GOES 16 satellite

Smoke from the west coast continues to move into Montana and is expected to bring "very unhealthy" and hazardous" air quality to parts of the state this weekend.

This update from Missoula City-County Health Department Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield was posted on September 12 at 6:23 p.m.

Western Montana has reaped the benefits of a weather pattern that has kept wildfire smoke at bay. Weather and air quality experts say that will likely change soon.