Montana Public Radio

wildfire


Wildland fire managers told Governor Steve Bullock June 16 in a 2020 fire season briefing they’re ready for what could become an above average fire year made even more complicated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Fire hose.
Inciweb

Pre-evacuation notices were lifted Tuesday for about 20 homes threatened by the Lump Gulch Fire burning south of Helena in Jefferson County. Strong winds caused the fire to grow quickly this weekend.

John Tubbs, Director of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, says he doesn't know how those homes were spared.


A 1,500 acre wildfire south of Helena kicked off Montana’s fire season this past weekend. This year, many of the strategies fire crews use to protect property and resources will look different as fire fighters also try to protect themselves from the COVID-19 illness. Two Type 1 fire incident commanders break down how new COVID-19 protocols will play out in the Northern Rockies.

Smoke from the Lump Gulch Fire burning south of Helena, MT, June 13, 2020.
Inciweb

There was minimal growth Monday on a wildfire burning near Clancy, south of Helena. Strong winds fanned the Lump Gulch fire Saturday afternoon which led to the mandatory evacuation of around 20 homes over the weekend.

Incident spokesman Duane Buchi says fire behavior was very quiet Monday.

Aerial view of the Lump Gulch Fire south of Helena, MT, June 13, 2020.
Inciweb

Updated 3:45 p.m., June 14

The evacuation order for Sheep Mountain residents has been lifted, according to a Facebook post from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff's office says those residents and others in the area of the Lump Gulch Fire in north Jefferson County near Sheep Mountain should remain prepared to evacuate.

BLM firefighters stand near their firetruck as smoke rises up in the background.
BLM (CC-BY-2.0)

Fire potential in Western Montana this summer is predicted to be above normal, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

“The wild card, of course, is COVID and how we’ll deal with response,” said Bryan Henry, a NIFC meteorologist, in a June 1 podcast.

Map showing the vicinity of the propose Stovepipe Project on the Flathead National Forest.
U.S. Forest Service

The Flathead National Forest is proposing a fuels-reduction project in the northwest area of the Flathead Valley. The project includes commercial logging and road building.


A new report from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is tentatively hopeful about Montana’s spring water outlook heading into fire season.

The Flathead National Forest issued a draft decision Thursday for a large forest thinning project northwest of Whitefish. The project calls for a thousands of acres of commercial timber harvest and several miles of new roads.

Firefighters loading up onto a helicopter on the Sunrise Fire.
Rand Snyder/Inciweb

New national wildfire response plans released Thursday give us a better picture of what firefighting will now look like in the COVID-19 era.

The days of big fire camps, those self-contained cities that seem to magically appear in open fields overnight are, at least for this year, a thing of the past. Under new guidelines released Thursday, they’re being replaced with a system designed to foster proper social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pages