Montana News

Lolo area residents gather at an incident command site Friday, August 18 as evening winds stoke the Lolo Peak Fire.
Beau Baker

Lolo Peak Fire Calms After Big Growth

Forecasters are predicting a couple more relatively calm days on the Lolo Peak Fire southwest of Missoula. This after firefighters and communities from Lolo south to Florence faced their most severe test when the fire grew explosively Friday night, eating up 9,000 acres in a single day. We’ll have more on what firefighters are expecting in a moment, but for now, let’s go back to Friday night when MTPR’s Beau Baker was reporting from the junction of Highways 12 and 93.

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Smoke plume from the Lolo Peak fire as seen from Missoula the evening of 8/18.
Anne Hosler

Lolo Peak Fire Photos

Photos from the Lolo Peak Fire, 8/17 through 8/19.

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U.S. Forest Service

As the Lolo Peak Fire made its major run along Highway 12 Friday night, somebody decided to launch a drone to capture some dramatic video or pictures. This irresponsible behavior forced fire managers to shut down critical air operations over the fire area.

The east side of the Lolo Peak Fire, via a map generated by an infrared flight early Saturday morning
Eric Whitney

Fire Information Officer Bill Queen says the Lolo Peak Fire only jumped the primary containment line in one place last night, in the Maple Creek drainage. But he says no additional homes or structures were lost last night. The fire grew by about 9,000 acres last night, and it's total size is now 27,906 acres. 

We will update this post with additional information as it becomes available. 

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 18, 2017

Aug 18, 2017

As of 6:40 p.m. there is a new evacuation order along the north side of Highway 12, west of Stella Blue Dr., including all of Sleeman Creek Rd. The order does not include Stella Blue Dr.

A super scooper plane loads up at Seeley Lake on the evening of August 1, while fighting the Rice Ridge Fire visible in the background.
Eric Whitney

The waters of Seeley Lake were reopened for recreational use earlier Friday.

Kristen Miller, a spokesperson for the Rice Ridge Fire, says the lake reopened because super scooper planes that had been pulling water from the lake were no longer being used on the fire.

Lolo Peak Fire, August 10, 2017.

Montana will be getting FEMA funding to help with the costs of the Lolo Peak Fire.

Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jerry DeFelice says funding is now available to pay 75 percent of the state’s eligible firefighting cost on the Lolo Peak Fire.

A Confederate memorial fountain in Helena, Montana.
Nate Hegyi

The city of Helena began removing a controversial Confederate memorial Friday.

The City Commission said they wanted the granite fountain gone after calls for its removal increased due to last weekend’s deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Florence Volunteer Fire Department truck.
Andy Lyon/Inciweb

The Lolo Peak Fire made another significant run Thursday night, and according to fire information officer, Mike Cole, this time it took a few buildings with it.

"Yesterday evening, we actually had some structures burn about a mile-and-a-half southwest of the town of Lolo; that was in the evening. The Missoula County Rural Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department is out there accessing that damage this morning, so they can notify the property owners. Those structures were in one of the evacuation order areas," Cole says.

A Confederate memorial fountain in Helena, Montana.
Nate Hegyi

It’s around lunch time in Helena as city employee Patrick Marron stands at the controversial Confederate memorial fountain in Hill Park.

It is the only Confederate memorial in the northwestern United States, and Helena Mayor Jim Smith said it poses a safety concern following last weekend’s violence at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  

On Wednesday night the Helena City Commission said they wanted the fountain gone.

Greater Yellowstone Coalition's Scott Christensen and Liz Purdy eating lunch at Follow Yer Nose BBQ in Emigrant on their way out to Jardine, MT for a conservation celebration.
Courtesy Caroline Byrd

A Canadian mining company and a pair of conservation groups have finalized agreements they say will protect two tributaries of the Yellowstone River and part of a crucial migration corridor for thousands of elk from Yellowstone National Park.

The Toronto-based mining company donated 549 acres and its water rights for the tributaries near the company's former Mineral Hill Mine site that closed in 2001.

Smoke from the Lolo Peak Fire seen from Missoula on the evening of August 16, 2017.
Anne Hosler

This afternoon, the evacuation order area for the Lolo Peak Fire has been extended south in the Highway 93 corridor. The area currently under evacuation order is on the west side of Highway 93, and now extends South from mile marker 78 all the way to Tie Chute Lane.

There is also a new evacuation warning area from Tie Chute Lane south to Bass Creek Road.