Montana Public Radio


Flathead County is the latest addition to the rapidly growing list of places where the fire danger rating has ramped up to ‘Very High’. Flathead area fire managers made that announcement Tuesday. The danger rating moves to very high when fires start easily, spread rapidly and increase quickly in intensity.

The danger rating is elevated for the Flathead National Forest, Glacier National Park, the DNRC Swan Unit, Stillwater Unit, and Kalispell Unit, and other local state lands.

Various fire restrictions blanket at least half of Montana as a heat wave tightens its grip across the northern Rockies. Hot temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds have prompted Red Flag Warnings for portions of Central and North Central Montana through Monday evening. That means critical fire weather conditions are, or will soon, occur.

The Bear Creek Fire near Lemhi, ID burned actively overnight, growing to an estimated 4,200 acres.

Three large air tankers dropped retardant along the southern portion of the fire line this morning in preparation of a burnout operation scheduled for tonight. An update to Inciweb says the retardant drop is meant to increase the longevity of the fire line and helps ground crews hold the line in lighter fuels.

The Bear Creek Fire near Lemhi, ID was mapped last night, doubling the size estimate to nearly 4,000 acres and zero percent contained. The fire is sending smoke across southwest and central Montana. Officials expect extreme fire behavior to continue today.

Bureau of Land Management lands southeast of Salmon along the Montana state line are closed, as is a section of the Continental Divide Trail.

Smoke from a massive wildfire in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest is visible across a large swath of southwest Montana.

The Bear Creek Fire, just across the Montana border near Salmon, Idaho, exploded overnight to more than 1,500 acres, fueled by low humidity and plentiful dry timber and brush.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for most of Montana until midnight Wednesday. A red flag warning means critical fire weather conditions are either occurring or will occur shortly. The combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior. More of Montana has been placed under stage 1 fire restrictions or burn bans until further notice.

Firefighters around Montana are using all available resources to contain wildfires and keep them as small as possible as part of a national strategy to limit the spread of the coronavirus among firefighting personnel.

Evacuation orders have been lifted for the Pumpkin Fire burning 15 miles south southwest of Miles City. None of the 66 threatened structures have been lost as of Friday afternoon.

A wildfire 15 miles southwest of Miles City is spurring evacuations. That’s according to a tweet Thursday afternoon from the Bureau of Land Management. According to the BLM tweet, the Pumpkin Fire was reported around 1 p.m. Thursday and is estimated at 2,500 acres. A BLM spokesperson says 50 structures, including 16 homes are threatened, and evacuations are underway. According to the City of Miles City facebook page, Tongue River road south of town is closed to all but emergency traffic.

The Old Baldy Fire, burning east of Twin Bridges in the in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, remains zero percent contained. The lightning-caused fire has forced the closure of roads in the Madison Ranger District from Dry Boulder Creek to Old Mill Creek, including Branham Lakes Campground.