Fires and Smoke in Western Montana
There have been several fires reported around western Montana since Friday, one that may have been arson caused, and the rest of undetermined origin.
As KGVO News reported, there was an arson fire involving several vehicles early Friday morning at the Hilton Garden Inn, which is still under investigation.
Secondly, Lolo National Forest spokesman Boyd Hartwig says the South Tamarack Fire, burning about six miles north of St. Regis in the Superior Ranger District was at 13 acres as of Saturday morning. Ground-based firefighters had assistance from helicopter drops and retardant planes. Since that fire is burning in an area of blown-down Lodgepole pines, firefighters were challenged to get a saw and hand line around the blaze. Containment Saturday was estimated at about five percent.
Then, on Saturday afternoon, a grass fire was reported on Flagler Drive near Bonner. Assistant Chief Blaine Cowan said the call came in just after 3:00 p.m.
"Our first engine got on the scene to find what looked to be about a half-acre fire burning in the grass," Cowan said. "The wind was picking up pretty good and began to move the fire towards a road. We're unsure at this time how exactly it got started. We didn't find any evidence of fireworks or cigarette butts or anything like that. It was basically undetermined when we got done investigating."
Cowan said when all was said and done, the fire had burned about 1.75 acres.
"We had five engines, two water tenders and a command vehicle there," he said. "We actually did have the state helicopter fly over, just in case there were any homes threatened, but fortunately, we were able to get them turned back around, in that we didn't need to use them for any bucket drops.
Cowan said the fire was under control in about an hour and called completely out after about two hours, and that no one was injured in the fire.
Cowan also added this reminder: Missoula Rural Fire District urges everyone to use extreme caution while working and playing outside. Outdoor burning is closed and the fire danger remains at High. With higher temperatures and little to no precipitation, fire danger will be of concern. Please visit www.mcfpa.org for current information on fire danger.
Regarding the smoke that was drifting over the Bitterroot into the Missoula valley on Saturday, Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman said that was from the fire in the Selway area, and no new fires had been reported.