Montana Public Radio


Tens of millions of Americans experienced at least a day last year shrouded in wildfire smoke. Entire cities were blanketed, in some cases for weeks, as unprecedented wildfires tore across the Western U.S., causing increases in hospitalizations for respiratory emergencies and concerns about people's longer-term health.

A new study finds those concerns are well founded.

Fire Season Comes Early In Eastern Montana

Feb 19, 2021

Wildfire managers in Eastern Montana say fire season got an early start this year, with more than a dozen burns in the area.

Weather conditions around eastern Montana in January were far from typical, says Scott McAlvoy with BLM’s Eastern Montana Dakota district.

McAlovy, assistant fire management officer, says part of the problem was the lack of any type of snow cover on the ground and some degree of drought ranging from abnormally dry to extreme drought.

By just about every measure, wildfires are getting bigger, hotter, and more devastating than we’ve ever seen before. But what all that fire means — and what to do about it — depends on who you ask.

Before leaving office, Gov. Bullock finalized a document that will guide forestry and logging projects in Montana for the next decade. Montana Public Radio’s Nick Mott has more from just south of Livingston. 

A citizen committee meeting Wednesday and Thursday put the finishing touches on a once-in-a-decade plan that will shape forest management in Montana.

Decades of aggressively putting out wildfires led to unhealthy, overgrown forests at particularly high risk for burns and disease outbreaks. At the same time, a patchwork of land ownership makes addressing management problems hard to do. That’s where the Montana Forest Action Plan comes in.

Crews are responding to a few wildfires across Montana.

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office has issued evacuation warning notifications for 33 residences south of Big Sky as local, state and U.S. Forest Service crews work to suppress the approximately 100 acre Porcupine Wildfire.

A nine square mile wildfire burning in the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest is estimated to be 75 percent contained as of Nov. 2.

The Sourdough Fire burning 14 miles west of Dell in southwest Montana was first reported on Oct. 30 burning in timber, brush and short grass.

Twelve aircraft, 11 engines and 54 firefighters are conducting burnout operations and securing the perimeter of the fire.

No structures are currently threatened and no closures are in place at this time.

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.

State fire officials say last weekend’s record-shattering winter storm put a decisive end to Montana’s 2020 wildfire season. It will be remembered for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was the first one to take place during a global pandemic.

Mike DeGrosky describes Montana’s 2020 fire season as an oddball.

Officials with the Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest are asking for the public’s help in identifying how the Yogo Fire got started.

The Yogo Fire began Oct. 3 in the Judith Musselshell Ranger District in the Little Belt Mountains and burned more than eight square miles of timber and grasses. The fire was considered 100 percent contained as of Oct. 22.

Is this the end?