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Entries in Montana fires (292)


Forest Service plans to replant a portion of Lolo Peak Fire burn

Dennis Bragg photo (MISSOULA)- The Forest Service is going to move forward with plans to re-plant nearly 8-thousand acres of timberlands that burned in last summer's Lolo Peak Fire. 

The fire burned over 53,000 acres, after it was started by a mid-July lightning storm. The blaze burned for weeks, destroying two homes and eight outbuildings when it flared up along the Northern Bitterroot Mountain Front in early August. 

While much of the fire burned in the backcountry, and high elevation areas that limit access, there are portions of the burn which forest managers say could benefit from replanting. 

The Forest Service is proposing to clear out underbrush, remove dead and dying trees and plant native species like Ponderosa and Western Larch that are more fire resistant than Douglas Fir which made up much of the timber that burned so fiercely. 

Lolo National Forest is taking public comment on the replanting plans for the next month. 



Missoula forum to discuss lessons from 2017 fire season

(MISSOULA)- It's not the worst fire season Montana has faced.

But the summer of 2017 could be a forecast of fire seasons to come. 

Over one million acres burned across Montana this year, driven largely by five or six major fires which scorched 50,000 to more than 100,000 acres and the Lodgepole Fire in Eastern Montana which consumed 270,000 acres of forest and open range land. It's considered the worst fire season in a decade or more. 

A special forum tonight will discuss the challenges, and lessons learned from the volatile 2017 fire season.

"Living with Fire" will bring together a panel of fire managers and specialists to to discuss not only the past season, but the trends which could impact future summers here in Western Montana. The forum is sponsored by "Treesource", a new online magazine dealing with forest issues. The forum starts at 7 in the UC Theater on the University of Montana campus and is free and open to the public. 


FEMA approves grants to help with Montana fires

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)- The Federal Emergency Management Agency is coming through with additional money to help Montana meet the additional costs of fighting fires this summer.

FEMA announced yesterday it was releasing funds to help with the Rice Ridge Fire, Alice Creek Fire, West Fork Fire and the Moose Peak Fire. Rice Ridge and Alice Creek are lighting-caused fires that have been burning fiercely in Missoula, Powell and Lewis and Clark Counties. West Fork and Moose Peak were also caused by lighting and are burning outside Libby in Lincoln County. 

Governor Steve Bullock had made a personal visit to FEMA's administrator, Brock Long, last week to ask for the funds. It's critical because the state's own firefighting funds have been depleted because of the extraordinarily long fire season. 

The funds can be used to pay for up to 75% of direct firefighting costs.

FEMA previously granted money to help with the Lolo Peak Fire and the Lodgepole Fire. 


Clearing skies help crews on Rice Ridge Fire

Burnout operations on the Rice Ridge Fire Sunday- USFS photo (MISSOULA)- Although clear skies can mean more active wildfire, less smoke is helping crews renew their attack on the 135,000 acre Rice Ridge Fire burning in Western Montana. 

The blaze added roughly another 13,000 to 14,000 acres over the weekend, with a combination of new fire growth and aggressive burnout operations, as crews worked to keep the fire from spreading too far south and east near Ovando and Lincoln. 

Clearing skies meant fire teams were able to use aircraft on the fire for the first time in several days. There was also a large burnout operation, with aerial ignition devices being released from planes near Monture Cabin and Fore Road 477. Elsewhere, crews are using heavy equipment to expand and construct fire lines. 

Much of that attention has been focused on building fire lines along the west side of the blaze, which is closest to private properties. 

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office lifted all but a handful of evacuation orders for residents around Seeley Lake over the weekend. 


Rice Ridge Fire continues to grow, although much slower than Sunday

The Rice Ridge Fire blew up on Sunday to more than 100,000 acres- USFS photo (SEELEY LAKE)- The Rice Ridge Fire adds another 7,000 acres to its fearsome total. 

But the blaze had no where near the growth that was seen during Sunday's high winds, which pushed it beyond 100,000 acres. The total Monday morning is now just over 108,000 acres. 

Most of the fire growth continues to be to the north and east, as the fire pushes into the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. However, over a thousand homeowners from Seeley on the west to Coopers Lake on the east remain under evacuation orders. 

One of the best fire teams in the country took over firefighting efforts this morning, as Greg Poncin's Type 1 Northern Rockies Incident Management Team is assigned to Rice Ridge. Poncin's team has already pulled two critical shifts on the Lolo Peak Fire this season, and has worked on some of the worst fires in Western Montana in recent years.