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Montana Wildfire Update For August 03, 2021

Montana fire officials estimate approximately 38 residences have been lost to fires this year, and roughly 600 people are displaced from their homes due to evacuation orders on nine fires.

That’s according to a readout from a wildfire briefing Gov. Greg Gianforte received Tuesday.

That readout says nearly a half million acres in Montana have burned. A little more than half of that total happened over the last week from new fire starts and growth from existing fires.

Of the 24 large fires in Montana, the state’s top priority is the 1,400-acre Boulder 2700 Fire, which is 0% contained.

There are 84 soldiers from the Montana National Guard helping to fight fires in the state. By this weekend, the state is expecting to have 200 soldiers helping with aviation, security, hand crews and other fire support.

Fire officials estimate the state has spent nearly one-fifth of the state’s fire budget.

Some residents near the Boulder 2700 Fire burning 9 miles east of Polson can return home following evacuations and structure losses over the weekend. Lake County announced in a Facebook post Tuesday that residents at mile marker 2 up to Mahood lane on Highway 35 can begin registration for return to their homes. Deputies have created a checkpoint and are asking residents to bring something to prove they live in the area. Residents should be ready to leave at any time. All homes north of Mahood Lane to Mile Marker 13 remain evacuated.

The Boulder 2700 Fire is burning over 1,400 acres.

The nearly 66,000 acre PF Fire, burning in sagebrush and grass east of the Bighorn River, about 6 miles northeast of Hardin in Big Horn County and the Crow Reservation, is now 80 percent contained.

Kate Wilson with the DNRC County Assist Team says the team anticipates the fire to be 100 percent contained Wednesday afternoon and command turned over to local authorities.

Wilson says one outbuilding was destroyed by the fire, which was started by a coal seam. The Northern Rockies Coordination Center reports firefighting costs are just over $1.5 million.

The Taylor Fire burning northeast of Denton in Fergus County has grown to 27,000 thousand acres with no containment.

Area manager Clive Rooney with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation says wind and stormy weather Monday night increased the fire by several thousand acres and pushed it east across the Judith River.

Rooney says state, federal and local fire crews are currently working on containment.

“Fire’s being controlled with a combination of direct fireline, indirect tactics, and air support.”

The Northern Rockies Coordination Center reports the Taylor Fire has destroyed 4 structures and threatens 18.

Fire officials expect suppression efforts to continue throughout the week and ask the public to avoid the area. Parts of Bear Springs Road and Everson Road are closed.

Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.