Environment & Energy

Greater Eagle Fire Department

The largest wildfire in the nation burns right now in Montana, and it's the size of New York City. The 353 square mile Lodgepole Complex fire is burning in Garfield and Petroleum counties of eastern Montana.

Paul Enenbach / Flickr Creative Commons

A coal power plant owes $2 million in property taxes to Big Horn County in southern Montana.

Billings Gazette reporter Matt Hudson has been following this story for nearly a year, and shares insights on the latest in late payments.

This story was updated at 3:30pm.

Trenton Johnson was on just his second assignment for Oregon-based Grayback Forestry when he was struck by a falling tree.

Updated 6:05 pm

Fire officials in the greater Flathead Valley say there’s been 86 wildfires reported in the area since July 1, and at least half of them are human caused. The area is currently pegged at “Very High” fire danger, as hot, dry conditions and almost daily lightning storms persist.

Lincoln Chute is the fire manager for Flathead County Office of Emergency Services.

(Flickr Creative Commons) / Duke Energy

With coal in decline and wind energy on the rise, one company wants to offer free training to a couple hundred interested people who want to become part of the highest growing profession in the next decade – wind turbine technician.

Updated 6:50 pm

In addition to the Lolo Peak Fire, several other fires on the Lolo National Forest include a pair on the Ninemile ranger district. Those are the approximately three acre Sunrise Fire, located ten miles south of Superior, and the estimated 12-mile Burdette Fire is located about nine miles southeast of Tarkio. That fire showed minimal activity yesterday.

On the Seeley Lake Ranger District, the Monahan Fire is located about 17 miles north of Ovando and is burning near the Wilderness boundary in remote terrain.

Wildfire Update
Liz West / Flickr

Around 35 residents have been told to evacuate due to a fire near the town of Roundup.

“We have evacuated the community of North Delphia, or the Delphia Pine subdivision, and we have set up a shelter with the Red Cross at the Roundup Community center,” says Adam Carlson, the Musselshell County Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator.

Update 4:15 PM:

New fires are cropping up and emergency officials are preparing for potentially dangerous fire weather over the weekend. About 2:00 this afternoon evacuations started east of Roundup due to a fire estimated at 2,000 acres that was discovered this morning.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter for evacuees in Roundup, it is unclear at this time how many people might be displaced.

Between Havre and Box Elder along hwy 87 looking south at the Bear's Paw Mountains. [ROCKY BOY'S]
Matt Lavin / Flickr

Dustin White, the Chippewa-Cree tribal water director, says it is one of the worst water shortages he’s ever seen on the Rocky Boy's reservation.

“I’m at the mercy of the weather right now,” White says.

Within two weeks, as many as 3,000 people could run out of water as relentless hot temperatures, a drought and a failed water storage tank cause water supplies to fall to critically low levels near the town of Box Elder in north-central Montana. 

Update 5 p.m. 07/11/17

Fire officials are now investigating whether a person is responsible for starting the big fire burning near Zortman.

"In order not to compromise the investigation, the BLM is not currently discussing the active investigation," says Pat Stocktt, who's with the Western Montana Incident Management Team.

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