Prescribed burns

It’s fall and that means it’s prescribed fire season in Montana. Wildland managers are now intentionally setting fires to reduce forest fuel buildup or to restore native vegetation.

Two prescribed wildfire operations just north of Missoula produced dense smoke that degraded air quality to unhealthy levels Wednesday night into Thursday morning. As weather forecasters predicted though, a cold front pushed into the region Thursday afternoon, increasing winds which helped dissipate the smoke.

Porcupine prescribed burn Custer Gallatin National Forest 2018.
Custer Gallatin National Forest


The Custer Gallatin National Forest Monday postponed several controlled burns in southwest Montana due to an incoming winter storm.

Smoke from prescribed burns in Idaho is making its way to western Montana Wednesday as the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest begins its prescribed burn season.

The fires ignited Wednesday are expected to burn for several weeks. According to Missoula County Air Quality specialist Sarah Coefield, "These burns are typically the most smoky during and immediately following ignition."

For Flathead Valley resident Charlotte Chrisman, wildfire on her private land is not a question of if, but when.

"It's like, you know, have you hit a deer? Well not yet," Chrisman says.