Firefighters Working 3 Lightning-Caused Fires In Western Montana

Jul 25, 2019

Another north-central Montana county has instituted burn restrictions because of weather conditions that could lead to rapidly spreading fires from errant sparks or unattended fires.

Thursday, Cascade County issued an open-burning ban in effect until further notice. Toole County also has a countywide burn ban, while Jefferson and Lewis and Clark counties have banned debris burning.

North-central and central Montana are under a red flag warning through Thursday evening because of hot temperatures, low relative humidity and strong, gusty winds that can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

Nearly 300 firefighters are working three wildfires that were started by lightning this week in western Montana.

Thursday, the Moss Ranch Fire southwest of Ronan grew to 290 acres. It’s burning tall grass, timber and brush on the Flathead Reservation. Ground and air support from the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs have this fire 10 percent contained. No evacuations have been ordered and no structures are threatened at this time. High winds are forecast for the region today.

The Bannack Fire, southwest of Dillon in Beaverhead County, is 20 percent contained. It has burned some 150 acres of grass, timber and sagebrush. Firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and local volunteer fire departments continue to make progress along the north and eastern edges of the fire. No structures are threatened and Bannack State Park remains open to visitors.

The Beeskove Fire north of Missoula quickly grew from less than an acre to 35 acres Wednesday night. Three helicopters have been dumping buckets of water to assist ground crews on a steep, rocky slope. The fire is in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and has closed several trails. Fire officials say more resources, including an additional hotshot team, will arrive within the next day.

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