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Fire activity picking up across central, eastern Montana

Fire activity in eastern Montana spiked this week, with the Northern Rockies Coordination Center reporting initial attacks on 17 fire starts in Montana on Thursday.

The largest is the Wall Fire southwest of Ashland in Rosebud County. Mark Jacobsen with the Bureau of Land Management Miles City Field Office says as of noon today (Friday) the fire had grown to 3,600 acres burning in broken terrain of hills and ravines on mostly private land. Local, county and federal fire crews are working to push the fire to the south toward the Tongue River. Cooler, windy weather is expected over the weekend.

The state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation reports there were 63 active fires across Montana as of noon Friday, including 9 fire starts in the last 24 hours. DNRC says nearly half of the 756 fires that have burned this year were human-caused.

In central Montana, the Moors Mountain Fire burning in the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness is now 25% contained as of Friday morning. The fire northeast of Helena remains at 94 acres; crews are constructing and maintaining fire lines along the fire’s perimeter.

A closure order continues for the east half of the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness, though the majority of the area remains open to recreation. A temporary flight restriction remains in place over the fire. This restricts all aircraft, including drones, from flying over the area without permission.

The National Preparedness Level for the Northern Rockies remains at Level 2.

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.