Several large wildfires burning in northwest Montana

UPDATE @ 10:17 a.m. Jan. 5, 2012

The wildfires near Browning, Montana, according to news reports, are much larger than we knew Wednesday night. KRTV reports that the Boy Fire northeast of Browning has burned 15,000 acres and four structures, including one home. Approximately 200 people evacuated from the Seville and Hidden Lake colonies and the Boarding School area.

The Y Fire, which started near the “y” intersection of Highways 89 and 2 south of Browning has burned 30,000 to 40,000 acres and destroyed 10 to 12 structures, including 4 homes.

KRTV said both fires were still active Thursday morning.

The weather forecast for Browning on Thursday:

  • Wind: 33-37 mph with gusts to 54
  • Temperature, high: 39
  • Relative humidity, minimum: 42%
  • Sky cover: 55%
  • Chance of precipitation: 44%


Very strong winds are driving several large grass fires across the plains in northwest Montana near Browning. At least one fire is burning on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Spokesperson Wayne Smith said the fire started southeast of Browning in the late afternoon on Wednesday and burned about eight miles east to the community of Blackfoot. The Blackfeet tribe declared a state of emergency.

Browning State Senator Shannon Augare says he believes about 100 people have been evacuated. Senator Augare has been providing information on Twitter Wednesday evening. For example he tweeted:

  • “Several families, including mine have evacuated from our homes in Blackfeet Country.. An estimated 5 massive fires are in progress..
  • Local police, fire and EMS crews are everywhere.. Responding where they are able to.
  • Apparently, the 1st fire was caused by a down power line.. Wind is blowing at a high rate here..
  • The Blackfeet Tribe has opened our main Tribal Business Office for those who need emergency shelter..”

Browning is about 12 miles east of Glacier National Park and about 30 miles south of the Canadian border (map).

KRTV reported late Wednesday night that several fires have burned over 10,000 acres and at least seven structures have been destroyed. They said the fires stretch from about 3 miles north of Browning to 20 miles south of Browning.

The temperature on Wednesday in Browning was 24 degrees warmer than usual, with a high of 54. The maximum wind gust over the last 24 hours was 54 mph with a steady wind late on Wednesday night of 17 mph gusting to 31. The forecast for Thursday is for a high of 43 with a 40% chance of rain or snow.


Thanks go out to Dick

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.