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Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest steps up restrictions after reporting two new human-caused fires

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The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest has returned to Stage 1 fire restrictions for the Rocky Mountain Ranger District and the Scapegoat Wilderness in the Lincoln Ranger District because of two new human-caused fires reported on Saturday.

Stage 1 restrictions prohibit building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfires or smoking except in designated areas.

In a Facebook post, forest officials report the human-caused Elk Creek Fire in the Sawmill drainage has been contained by lining the one-and-a-half acre fire with water hose.

Helicopters, air tankers and hotshot crews have stopped the 10-acre Falls Creek Fire from advancing towards homes in the Dearborn corridor.

A fire information officer with the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest reports the latest fires bring the number of human-caused fires in the last month to six.

Officials urge hunters and other forest recreationists to make sure fires are cold to the touch before leaving them unattended.

Forest visitors are also encouraged to be mindful of dry, windy weather conditions and activities that carry fire risk.

There are currently over 30 active wildfires in Montana. More than 50 residences and 930,000 acres have burned so far this year.

The state of Montana has spent more than $56 million from its fire suppression fund to fight wildfires this fiscal year, according to the governor's latest fire briefing from earlier this month. The fund entered the season at its statutory maximum of $105 million.

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.