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Cool, wet weather helps with progress on Matt Staff, Busman Road fires

Crews work over the weekend on the Matt Staff Road Fire in Lewis and Clark County.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's office
Crews work over the weekend on the Matt Staff Road Fire in Lewis and Clark County.

Rain and cooler temperatures helped firefighters make progress this weekend on two large, aggressive wild fires in central and eastern Montana.

All evacuations were lifted late Friday by Lewis and Clark and Broadwater county Sheriff’s offices for the Matt Staff Road Fire east of Helena. The nearly 1,600-acre fire burning in pine and grass is 84% contained as of Monday afternoon. Crews are working the interior to suppress hot spots to ensure the fire stays within the fire line perimeter.

In eastern Montana, the more than 13,000-acre Busman Road Fire burning in grass and timber in Treasure County is 88% contained as of Monday.

Acres of grazing land and miles of fencing have been destroyed, but no structures were burned and no livestock were lost.

County Disaster and Emergency Services Director Nicole Stephenson says five engines and one hand-crew from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation will be on scene early this week mopping up the fire before turning command over to local officials on Wednesday.

The fire began on Thursday in a grain field and has been determined to be human caused.

The Montana Department of Natural Resources is expecting another busy fire week, with the weather forecast predicting more hot and dry conditions along with strong winds and thunderstorms raising the danger for wildland fires.

Firefighters with the agency responded to 19 fires last week. DNRC reports that’s a total so far this year of just over 1,000 fires that burned nearly 54,000 acres.

With a large portion of DNRC’s resources responding to several large wildfires, the agency says it’s especially important for people to prevent human-caused fire starts

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.