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Entries in Montana fires (292)


Montana air quality improves slightly 

(MISSOULA)- Residents of Missoula County and the northern Bitterroot continue to suffer with terrible air quality from all the fire smoke. 

DEQ reports air quality was "unhealthy" in Missoula and Frenchtown as well as Hamilton late Wednesday evening. And in Lolo, the air was even worse, reaching "hazardous" levels. 

However, by Thursday morning conditions had improved somewhat, with all those same areas reporting air was "unhealthy for sensitive groups."  

And forecasters aren't expecting any real long term relief, with more dry weather in the forecast after a chance of thunderstorms Thursday afternoon. 


Cooler, calmer conditions helping on Observation Fire

USFS photo shows a retardant line near the fire earlier this week(HAMILTON)- Cooler, calmer weather and some rain showers are exactly what firefighters need in the Bitterroot, as they work to expand fire lines around the Observation Fire. 

The fire, burning in the Lost Horse drainage southwest of Hamilton, is the largest blaze in Montana so far during the 2016 fire season, having burned over 1,400-acres. 

Fire managers say they've been able to contain 30% of the fire now behind fire lines, with efforts helped by calmer winds over the past 24-hours. High winds have been problematic on the fire since it started in late June. 

Efforts now are to expand the fire line through steep terrain on the west side of the fire. A Stage 1 evacuation alert remains in place, asking residents of the area to be prepared to evacuation if conditions change. 


New fires start in SW Montana

U.S.F.S. photo (ENNIS)- Fire crews are attacking two new fire starts in the Gravely Range which were spotted on Thursday. 

The Pole and Fine fires are within one mile of each other and are believed to have started from a lightning strike during a passing thunderstorm. 

The fires are burning in stands and standing timber south of Ennis near the crest of the Northern Gravely Range. The Forest Service says crews have good access to reach the fire. The fires have consumed about 8-acres. 

The road system along the ridge opens today, and the Forest Service says F.S. Road 290, the Gravely Ridge Road is open, although it's near the fires. The agency says there's a potential for partial road closures on the section from Crockett Lake to Warm Springs Junction if the fire grows. 


Warm weather generating new fire activity in Western MT

Bear Creek Fire- USFS photo(MISSOULA)- The dry, warm weather of the past few days is generating some additional activity on fires still burning from August's lightning storms.

While most of last month's fires are out, a few are still showing fire activity as the drought continues.

In the Missoula Valley Tuesday afternoon, new smoke could be seen coming from the West Fish Creek Fire, burning west of Alberton south of the Clark Fork Valley. Lolo National Forest spokesman Boyd Hartwig says the warm conditions was causing some additional burning around the perimeter of the blaze, which has burned nearly 12,000 acres. But Hartwig says there are no evacuations or additional hazards. 

Other fires, including the Little Joe near St. Regis, the Selway Complex, Motorway Complex and Lochsa South Complex fires burning in Idaho are also still active and kicking up some smoke over the region. 

Several large fires in Northwest Montana, such as the Thompson-Divide Complex on the south side of Glacier National Park, and the Bear Creek Fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness are also still burning and being monitored. 


Inch of rain, snow, make all the difference on Glacier fires

Snow blankets high country above Thompson Divide fires- Jonathan Moor photo(MISSOULA)- More than an inch of rain, along with high country snow, are helping to squelch three of the largest blazes from this fire season, burning along the southern edge of Glacier National Park. 

Fire managers report the Thompson-Divide Complex fires are now 72% contained. The complex initially started with the Thompson Fire in the Nyack backcountry, which burned almost 19,000-acres. The Sheep Fire, which was burning south of U.S. 2 in the Flathead National Forest, consumed more than 2000-acres and threatened Essex during the height of that fire two weeks ago. The Granite Fire burned almost 1,000-acres, also on National Forest Land. 

Now, fire managers say the cool, wet weather has helped tremendously, and they've been able to contain almost three-fourths of the fires' perimeters. There are no more restrictions on travel along Highway 2, or evacuation orders in place. 

A Northern Rockies Type 2 team is demobilizing on the fires today, and will turn management over to a Type 3 team that will be stationed at Hungry Horse and will continue to monitor the three fires. 

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