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Montana Wildfire Update For July 15, 2021

The Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order for all 17 houses in the Alder Creek area as a nearby wildfire burns south of highway 43 and the Wise River. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Alder Creek Fire is burning more than 2,400 acres in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Stage II fire restrictions will go into effect Saturday on City of Missoula open space and conservation lands.

Critical Fire Conditions

The National Weather Service has a red flag warning in effect until 9 p.m. for southwest and central Montana. Gusty winds up to 30 miles an hour, with low humidity combined with scattered wet and dry thunderstorm lightning strikes will create critical fire conditions.

A red flag warning means that critical fire conditions are either occurring or will shortly.

The weather service reports that most of eastern Montana is under an excessive heat watch from Saturday afternoon through Wednesday night. Temperatures are expected to climb from near 100 degrees on Saturday to 106 by Monday. Overnight lows may not drop below 70 degrees, providing limited relief. Those conditions are expected to continue until at least Wednesday of next week. This extreme heat will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses.

Fire Bans Go Into Effect

State and interagency fire officials have announced fire bans across northwest Montana due to the extreme fire danger.

All private, state and Flathead National Forest lands within Flathead County are entering Stage-1 restrictions. Stage-1 bans campfires with some exemptions. FWP says it is not exempting any of its sites in Flathead county from the campfire ban.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks placed a ban on campfires and other fire restrictions on all FWP sites in northwest Montana, effective July 17. According to a FWP press release, all private, state, and Kootenai National Forest lands within Lincoln, Sanders and Lake Counties will also enter Stage-2 restrictions. Cascade County announced Wednesday that Stage-2 fire restrictions will begin there at midnight. Stage II fire restrictions will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 17, on City of Missoula open space and conservation lands.

The following acts are prohibited under Stage-2 fire restrictions:

  • Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire.
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
  • Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails.
  • The following acts are prohibited from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.
    • Operating any internal combustion engine.
    • Welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with an open flame.
  • Using an explosive.

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Explore what wildfire means for the West, our planet and our way of life, with Fireline, a six-part series from Montana Public Radio and the University Of Montana College of Business.
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