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South Moccasin Fire now extinguished, Coal Bank Fire significantly contained

A view from north of the South Moccasin Fire on Oct. 7, 2021.
A view from north of the South Moccasin Fire on Oct. 7, 2021.

Montana’s current weather pattern of cooler temperatures and wetter conditions has helped firefighters push containment of the nearly 13,000-acre South Moccasin Fire burning northwest of Lewistown in Fergus County to 100%.

The County Assist Team from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation reports minimal fire spread is expected in the coming days, allowing crews to extinguish hot spots along the fire’s southern edge. Crews are removing dangerous dead and standing trees along Tower road. Montana Highway 81, the Denton Highway, has reopened.

No homes were destroyed by the fire although five outbuildings were destroyed as was a YPR transmitter serving the Stanford-Lewistown area.

The County Assist Team plans to hand over management of the firefighting efforts to local firefighters on Saturday. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

In southeast Montana, the Coal Bank Fire burning 18 miles southwest of Ashland in Rosebud County, has been downsized to just over 5,700 acres and is 60% contained. Multiple agencies totaling 112 personnel continue removing burning materials along the containment lines.

The Coal Bank Fire was first reported Tuesday morning and was started by a coal seam.

Kay Erickson has been working in broadcasting in Billings for more than 20 years. She spent well over a decade as news assignment editor at KTVQ-TV before joining the staff at YPR. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a degree in broadcast journalism. Shortly after graduation she worked in Great Falls where she was one of the first female sports anchor and reporter in Montana.