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Wildland Fire In York Burns Unoccupied House

Two firefighters hose down a red barn while another structure is engulfed in flames
York Volunteer Fire Department via Facebook
Fire fighters from a number of volunteer departments responded to a wildfire and structure fire in York May 31, 2021.

A volunteer fire department northeast of Helena continues to respond to a six to eight acre wildland fire that burned a house, outbuildings and dry grass Friday.

The York Volunteer Fire Department, Tri-Lakes, East Valley, East Helena and Eastgate Fire Departments put roughly 20,000 gallons of water on the fire just on Saturday.

York Fire Chief Keith Outzs says the unoccupied house burned down to its foundation and continues to smolder. The chief says the department is visiting the site daily to continue to douse the remains to keep it from reigniting with the hot, dry weather expected this week.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Outzs says the house had been unoccupied for several years and the barn, several sheds and vehicles that also burned were not in use.

The 90 degree temps this week have fire officials around the state concerned about wildfire outbreaks.

Jon Kohn with Bureau of Indian Affairs Fort Peck Fire Management says they had to deal with several human caused fires over the weekend. Kohn reminds people on the Ft. Peck Reservation there is a reservation-wide burn ban in effect.

The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch for Friday afternoon through Friday night for northeast Montana.

The Service says a mix of temperatures in the 90s, low humidity, gusty winds near 25 miles an hour and expected dry thunderstorms could ignite fires on Friday.

NWS warns these thunderstorms have moderate to high levels of lightning with very little rainfall. Any new fire starts will spread rapidly and may become difficult to contain.

The National Weather Service says a fire weather watch or red flag warning is issued when the combination of dry fuels and weather conditions create extreme fire danger.

A fire weather watch is issued 72 hours before the conditions are expected to occur, while a red flag warning is issued within 24 hours of the extreme conditions.