Strong winds on Monday pushed a fire through 350 acres of forest land four miles southeast of Philipsburg, Montana Monday. During the night the winds calmed down, but officials report that five homes and numerous outbuildings burned in the fire that was reported at 6:30 p.m. MT Monday.
Philipsburg is about 80 miles southeast of Missoula.
Residents have been allowed to return to their homes, according to an update on InciWeb, where the fire behavior is described as “creeping with occasional group torching and small runs”, which is very different from the conditions when these two photos were taken.
Management of the fire is transitioning to a Type 3 Incident Management Team under the direction of Incident Commander Jonathan Clark.
A trial began on Monday in Virginia City, Montana for a man facing multiple felony counts for allegedly starting the Bear Trap 2 Fire west of Bozeman, Montana in June, 2012. Kyler Schmitz is accused of starting the fire when fireworks he was using ignited vegetation, ultimately burning 15,341 acres of private, Bureau of Land Management, and State owned land. The fire cost more than $1.2 million to suppress.
Red Flag Warnings for enhanced wildfire danger have been issued by the National Weather Service for areas in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Montana.
The Red Flag Warning map above was current as of 9:45 a.m. MT on Monday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts. For the most current data, visit this NWS site.
The schedule for the visits of Air Tanker 910 to airports in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Montana that Wildfire Today told you about last week has been revised due to snow at Rapid City. (An air tanker should not have to suffer the indignity of de-icing.)
The revised schedule for the DC-10 operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier is as follows, but keep in mind that the times are approximate, subject to change, and could vary by up to 30 minutes or so. All times are local.
Tuesday, April 23
Brainerd, Minnesota, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Rapid City, South Dakota, 2 p.m., and departing the next morning
Wednesday, April 24
Billings, Montana, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Missoula, Montana, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
At this time there are no planned tours for the public, but they may be able to see the DC-10 through a fence or from other locations.
A prescribed fire being conducted by the Montana Department of Resources and Conservation north of Great Falls on Wednesday escaped and burned 560 acres of state and private land. The goal of the project was to treat 160 acres of DNRC trust land with prescribed fire.
The fire got away at about 12:30 p.m. when the fire activity increased and the five engines on scene ran out of water and could not contain it. After receiving assistance from firefighters in Cascade and Teton counties they controlled the fire by 3:30 p.m. No structures or crops were damaged.
An article that appeared in the Missoulian and several other newspapers discusses research by Headwaters Economics about the costs of fighting wildfires in the wildland-urban interface. It includes some controversial quotes from a gentleman who is often sought by reporters when they need a quote about U.S. Forest Service fire management policies.
Below is an excerpt from the article. You will have to go to the Missoulian site to read the aforementioned quotes.
If Montana’s forest fringes continue filling with houses, wildland firefighting costs could double, according to a report by the Bozeman-based Headwaters Economics.
“Protecting homes is a major cost and safety issue in fighting fire,” said Headwaters author Chris Mehl. “But the real question is personal responsibility: Who pays for that? Right now, the federal government – the Forest Service, BLM or FEMA – pays for a disproportionate share of the cost of fighting fires and cleaning up afterward. States and municipalities pay a small share of the cost.
“The challenge is, if we keep building these homes in the wildland-urban interface, who should bear the cost? Will localities say we’re not willing to bear the cost and you landowners must bear more? We need to look at land-use planning.”