Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Sally Mauk

Firefighters on the ground and from the air continue to wage what they're calling "a slugfest" on the north edge of the Lolo Creek Complex fire.

Highway 12 has been reopened to all traffic and the evacuation order for all residents along and off the highway has been lifted. Those residents however remain under an evacuation warning because of the nearby Lolo Creek Complex fire. There is a 45 mph speed limit from mile marker 20 to mile marker 32 on Highway 12 and motorists should be alert for fire traffic.

Sally Mauk

Lolo Creek Complex fire incident commander Greg Poncin says crews are making excellent progress and if that continues over the next 24 hours, Highway 12 may reopen and evacuees may be allowed to return home - but not before tomorrow at the earliest.

In an extensive interview this afternoon with News Director Sally Mauk, Poncin said up to a tenth of an inch of rain fell on parts of the fire early this morning, and crews have made great progress.


Officials with the Lewis & Clark City-County Health Department report West Nile Virus has been detected in eight Montana counties so far this Summer:

·        Blaine

·        Cascade

·        Hill

·        Lewis & Clark

·        Phillips

·        Prairie

·        Sheridan

·        Teton

Sally Mauk

Cooler temperatures and some rain showers (!)  are helping firefighters corral the Lolo Creek Complex fire, which was 30 percent contained as of this morning. Over 650 firefighters from around the country are now working the fire that has destroyed five homes, displaced hundreds of residents, and closed Highway 12 from Lolo to Graves Creek. Here are some of the images of the fire's destruction, and the firefighters working hard to keep it from doing more.....

Katrin Frye

Right now people living with Asbestos related diseases contracted from the W-R Grace mine in Libby and living in Flathead or Lincoln Counties receive additional Medicare benefits. These benefits include compensation for medical-related travel expenses and medicine not traditionally covered through Medicare.

But, if they now live outside of Lincoln or Flathead Counties, those benefits are not available.

Dan Boyce

US Sen. Max Baucus hashed out ideas for federal tax reform Wednesday with a council of Montanans representing a number of different industries. The Democratic leader of the powerful Senate Finance Committee is making broad tax overhaul a major priority before leaving office in 2014.

The federal tax code has not been overhauled since 1986. Baucus said about 15,000 changes have been made to the code since that time, making it overly-complex and causing the US to lose some of its competitive edge in a global marketplace.

Sally Mauk

MTPR News Director Sally Mauk was given a tour of the Lolo Creek Complex today.  Here are  few shots she's sent back to us...

Sally Mauk

At Lolo Elementary School lower gymnasium at 8 pm.

From the Montana Department of Transportation, this is an alert for travelers on US-12 south of Missoula between Lolo and the Idaho State Line on Thursday August 22, 2013 at 11:00 am

The road is closed from Graves Creek at milepost 16 to the junction with US 93 at Lolo due to wildfires. The duration of the closure is unknown at this time.

Sally Mauk

The Type One Incident Command team now in charge of the Lolo Creek Complex fire are the best in the business - assigned to only the top priority fires in the country. Yesterday they briefed Governor Steve Bullock and Senator Jon Tester on their plan of attack, which includes contingency plans for burnouts if the fire continues its push toward homes in Sleeman Gulch and the town of Lolo. They're hoping the weather - and heavy retardant drops on the eastern flank of the fire - will make those burnouts unnecessary.

Montana schools are improving school lunches at one of the fastest rates in the nation.

The US Department of Agriculture says Montana is one of six states where 98 percent of schools or more are meeting new meal standards set by the federal government.

In this feature interview, Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce speaks with USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon about the intent of these major revisions.

Sally Mauk

The Lolo Creek Complex fire took another explosive run Tuesday evening, growing to 8000 acres and within two and a half miles of Sleeman Creek. Dozens of residents remain evacuated, and a Type One Incident Command team took over management of the fire today. Greg Poncin is the team's leader. He says the forecast of more hot, dry temperatures and afternoon winds makes the next two to three days a critical period and "a hard-fought battle" ahead for firefighters.

Lolo Complex Fire Perimeter Map

Aug 21, 2013
Sally Mauk

The fire's eastern edge is about 2-and-a-half miles west of Sleeman Creek:

The environmental organization Earth First began circulating a guidebook on how to sabotage the hunting of wolves last week.

The online guide lays out steps for destroying wolf traps, releasing trapped wolves and disrupting wolf hunts through methods such as smoke bombs and air horns. It asserts states, the NRA, and the Obama Administration are engaging in a conspiracy to wipe wolves off the face of the planet.

Sally Mauk

Residents of Sleeman Creek road off Highway 12 were ordered to evacuate this evening as shifting winds pushed the Lolo Creek Complex fire further east and past a "flash point" where officials deem it is unsafe for residents to remain in their homes. The fire is currently moving towards highway 12 again just west of Mill Creek. The evacuation order came right after a public meeting was held this evening to brief residents on the fire's expansion to 8000 acres.

Sally Mauk

Residents of Sleeman Gulch, a few miles east of the Lolo Creek Complex fire off Highway 12, have been placed on pre-evacuation notice - meaning they need to be ready to leave on the spur of the moment. Sleeman road is a one-way-in, one-way-out gravel road.

Kirk Derby lives near the end of the road, in a house he and his wife just bought a year ago. Last night they left to wait out the fire in town, but returned today to clear more stuff from their house.

Edward O'Brien

Planned Parenthood of Montana's new President and C-E-O, Martha Stahl, says she's a natural fit for the organization.

This just released from the Lolo Creek Complex public information officers:

  Incident commanders have evaluated opening Highway 12 to escort traffic through and into the fire area and determined there are still too many hazards in the area of the Lolo Creek Complex. The decision will be evaluated again at 5pm. Safety of the public and firefighters continues to be the top priority.

Dan Boyce

Governor Steve Bullock is looking to put more focus into early childhood education—that is, education before a kid is five years old. Bullock said Montana ranks near the bottom of states in investment in early ed.

However, state spending did increase this past legislative session by nearly $2 and a half million dollars.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce says that money will go toward increasing a ranking program for day-care centers called the Best Beginnings Stars to Quality Program.

4 Homes confirmed lost in the Lolo Creek Complex

Aug 20, 2013
Sally Mauk

Four homes are confirmed to have been lost in the 5000 acre Lolo Creek Complex fire.

Sally Mauk

Here are some images from the blowup of the West Fork Two and Schoolhouse fires into what's now called the "Lolo Creek Complex" burning along Highway 12 about 10 miles west of Lolo. The complex is now estimated to be 3500 acres in size, and some homes have been confirmed lost though no injuries have been reported. A Type 1 Incident Management team is en route to manage the fire.  Missoula County Disaster and Emergency Services has established a hotline for residents to get information - that number is 258-4636.

 The country has just a few more months before many of the major elements of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, go into effect. This includes a requirement for Americans to buy health insurance, starting the first of the year.

An online marketplace will be giving Montanans without insurance options to buy plans from one of three providers. In this Feature Interview, Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce speaks with Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen about choices people will have regarding the marketplace.

Sally Mauk

Breaking: Highway 12, from the intersection of Highway 93 South to Lolo Pass is now CLOSED.

Western Montana Fair 4-H animal presentations

Aug 19, 2013
Justin Steck

The Western Montana Fair recently descended upon Missoula’s Fairgrounds for the 134th time. 

Sally Mauk

The lightning-caused Schoolhouse fire burning north and west of Lolo has grown to 250 acres. The fire is the largest of several new fires started by a lightning storm that moved through Saturday night. Smoke from this fire is visible in Missoula and it is one of two fires now burning in the Highway 12 corridor between the community of Lolo and Lolo Pass. The West Fork Two fire south of the highway is 60 acres. Information officer Cindy Super says none of the fires are currently threatening any structures.

The American Cancer Society's non-profit advocacy affiliate has released a report outlining how Montana legislative activity affects cancer prevention outcomes.

Katrin Frye

A new company is taking over management of Glacier Park’s historic hotels and restaurants. The National Park Service owns the buildings, but for the past 30-plus years Glacier Park Incorporated has been running the businesses. Glacier Park recently announced the Colorado-based Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Inc will replace Glacier Park Incorporated as the Concessioner operating these businesses with the new year.

File Photo

US Congressman Steve Daines said this week it makes sense to include his seven-day trip to Israel as a part of his ‘Montana Jobs Tour.’

“As Montana looks to the future, we’re gonna be highly dependent to grow our economy based on exports,” Daines said.

He visited several Montana towns last week as part of the tour, including Bozeman, Butte, and Billings.