A dozen large wildfires within 70 miles of Missoula

fires western Montana

Above: Wildfires in Western Montana, July 25, 2017.

(Originally published at 10:30 a.m. MDT July 25, 2017)

Residents of Missoula, Montana are used to the impacts wildfire season brings to the area. Occasionally the area is inundated with smoke for days or weeks at a time.  Today at least a dozen large wildfires are burning within 70 miles of Missoula. Most of them are south or east of the city so the northwest wind predicted today will blow much of the smoke from the fires away from town.

missoula smoke
Photo from a camera at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, showing some smoky haze in the air at 8:45 a.m. PDT July 25, 2017.

The national Incident Management Situation Report groups fires by Geographic Area and lists those Areas by priority, and within each Area the fires are listed by priority. The Northern Rockies Geographic Area, identified as the highest priority today, is comprised of Northern Idaho, all of Montana, most of North Dakota, and relatively small portions of Wyoming and South Dakota.

fires Northern Rockies Geographic Area
The 12 highest priority fires in the Northern Rockies Geographic Area, July 25, 2017. “Ctn” means it is a full suppression fire. “Comp” is less than full suppression.

Today’s report lists 21 large fires in the Northern Rockies with 18 of them being in Montana. The first 10 priorities are in Montana and 8 of them are in the western part of the state.

The two that are in the eastern part are the top two priorities in the Area:

Lodgepole Complex of Fires: 250,000 acres, 16 homes have been destroyed. Firefighters are making good progress. Over the last 48 hours the only large growth has been on the northern end near Lake Fort Peck. More information.

Buffalo Fire: This is a new fire reported July 24. At last report it had burned 2,000 acres and is near the Wyoming/Montana state line. An Incident Management Team from Alaska that was staged in the state has been assigned.

Fires in Eastern Montana
Fires in Eastern Montana, July 25, 2017.
Lodgepole Complex of fires
The north portion of the Lodgepole Complex of fires. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 2:52 a.m. PDT July 25, 2017. The red line was the fire perimeter at 9 p.m. MDT July 23, 2017.

Below is some information about a couple of fires closer to Missoula:

Lolo Peak Fire; 1,090 acres 17 miles southwest of Missoula and 10 miles southwest of Lolo. It was active Monday and Monday night on the north, west, and south sides, spotting across a drainage and advancing to Lantern Ridge.

Sapphire Complex comprised of Sliderock, Little Hogback, and Goat Creek fires: 20 to 31 miles southeast of Missoula. All three fires were active Monday, primarily on the east and southeast sides. Combined they have burned 4,539 acres.

An executive order signed by the Governor of Montana Sunday will enable the state to mobilize National Guard helicopters (Blackhawks and CH47), some firefighters, and kitchens. It also makes it possible for local governments to access the Governor’s emergency fund if they have enacted their own 2 mil levy.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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6 thoughts on “A dozen large wildfires within 70 miles of Missoula”

    1. Let’s see: why are you home? Maybe terrain doesn’the suit your equipment? Maybe there are Agency resources available? MAybe your resources are not UTF? Maybe your bid rate is really high? Or maybe past performance? Lots of possible reasons.

  1. Please note that the lake involved in Northeastern Montana is not Lake Fort Peck but Fort Peck Lake. It is the largest man made lake in the world prior to modern equipment which help construct the present day largest man made lake in Russia. There is a lot of history surrounding this body of Water and the men and women of the depression era. I would think that respect could be paid because of this history and use the Lake’s correct name. Thank you.

    1. Thank You Aileen,
      That’s my home town born and raised and I hope they get that fire out soon. I pray all the farmers and ranchers are safe along with the fire fighters also. Yes, it is a historic place!!! Awesome really!

  2. If you have any doubts just check the Montana State maps site and you will see that it is sited as Fort Peck Lake, Fort Peck Dam and Northeastern Montana Veterans Memorial site.

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