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Entries in Montana fires (291)

Saturday
Aug062011

Officials warn about hazard from abandon campfires

(MISSOULA)- Firefighting agencies in Western Montana are warning people after an upswing in wildfires caused by abandon campfires.

The warnings were issued Friday by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), US Forest Service, city, county and rural fire departments.

The agencies say over the past several weeks, there have been more than a dozen abandoned campfires discovered by fire crews. On the Lolo National Forest alone firefighters have had to deal with 16-human caused fire, which is more than half of all the total fires this year. Statewide, DNRC says over 60% of its wildfires have been human-caused.

With the fire danger at high, even following the wet start to summer, fire managers are reminding people of the proper precautions they should be taking.

They say the first step is ensuring campfires are legal in the location being used.  Just because there is a ring of burned rocks does not mean it is legal to have a campfire (an example is the Blackfoot Recreation Corridor).  Next, be sure the area around your campfire is free of flammable material.  This includes looking at any overhanging branches.  Finally, when you’re done with the fire, don’t just look for smoke.  Pour water onto the ashes, then stir it in and very carefully feel for any heat in the ashes.  If the fire is too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.  This is the same process wildland firefighters use to put out a wildland fire. 

Thursday
Aug042011

Crews close to controlling Kennedy Creek Fire

(PARADISE)- It’s still not an easy job, but fire crews are starting to get the upper hand on the stubborn Kennedy Creek Fire burning near Paradise in the Lower Clark Fork Valley.

The lightning-caused fire broke out after a thunderstorm earlier this week and has been burning in steep, rugged terrain on the mountains overlooking the valley near the confluence of the Clark Fork and the Flathead River.

The fire has been difficult not only because of the terrain, but because of the rolling rocks and trees on the steep mountainside.

But this afternoon, Lolo National Forest fire managers say the fireline is holding and the blaze is still about 70-acres in size. Crews have been working to eliminate as many hazardous trees as possible, and keeping debris from crossing the line and spreading the fire. Firefighters are also using blivets, or portable water bags to begin mopping up efforts.

No firefighters have been released from the scene, but fire managers remain optimistic about the progress they’ve been making.

Wednesday
Aug032011

Crews still battling fire near Paradise

(PARADISE)- Fire managers are depending on aircraft to try and get a handle on the growing Kennedy Creek fire in the lower Clark Fork Valley.

The lightning-caused fire started in steep, rugged terrain overlooking the valley and the confluence of the Flathead and North Fork Rivers on Monday, with the fire nearly doubling in size since then.

Lolo National Forest says aircraft is proving to be crucial in fighting the blaze, given the limited access for ground crews.

Helicopters continue to drop buckets of water along the fire front today, while crews are trying to punch a fireline around the perimeter of the blaze. (USFS photo)

Incident Commander Jon Airhart stated that approximately 10 percent of the fire is contained at this time. 

Managers say the success of the containment efforts will highly depend on rolling debris and the potential for winds to pick up. 

Monday
Aug012011

Fire near Garrison contained, fire near Paradise still burning

(GARRISON)-  The Old Baldy fire, located on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ground near Windy Rock Mountain is 100% contained this afternoon and crews are being released from the fire.

The fire, which was caused by lightning, was first spotted on Friday.

The Flathead Hotshots are being released today.  The Ridge Runners, a State Department of Corrections 20-person crew, will remain on the fire with engine crews from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) for at least one more day to make certain the fire is completely out.

Meanwhile, crews are working on a new lightning-caused fire near Paradise in the Lower Clark Fork Valley. KPAX TV is reporting a 20-person crew is fighting the 21-acre blaze, which is burning in steep terrain above the valley (photo from Juan Lulack)

Monday
Aug012011

Forecasters see "below normal" fire danger this month

(BOISE)- It doesn't mean there won't be fires. But the August 1st forecast from the region's fire managers shows a "below normal" risk of wildfire in the Northern Rockies this month.

That's the outlook contained in the latest update from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, the agency that tracks fire weather across the West.

Forecasters say while the conditions that created our long, wet winter and spring in Idaho and Montana this spring are gone, the weather patterns off the coast have continued cool and moist. That's kept some snow in the high country and mountain areas wetter than usual for mid-summer.

And with days growing shorter and the peak of summer temperatures passing, fire danger should be at normal levels come mid-September.