Environment & Energy

Lightning on Friday afternoon resulted in several fire starts across Northwest Montana, some of which were not detected until Sunday.

Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation reports numerous fires scattered throughout the Pleasant Valley/Happy’s Inn/ACM/Fisher River area.

This post will be updated as new information becomes available.

UPDATE 530 PM: Montana DNRC reports that the Rogers Mountain fire is "making a run," that winds are pushing it south and east toward Happy's Inn. The Lincoln County Sheriff's office says the sheriff is headed to the area now to assess whether a pre-evacuation notice should be issued. 

DNRC says that single engine air tankers are attacking the Rogers Mountain fire, and that a heavy air tanker has been ordered. 

UPDATE: 3:55 PM: 

A mixed bag of news today from the July fire burning south of the Fort Belknap Reservation in Phillips County. 

Yellowstone National Park took to Facebook today to tamp down ongoing speculation that a cataclysmic seismic event is imminent.

Roundup Of Fire Warnings, Restrictions

Jul 7, 2017

Fire danger in northwest Montana forests has been moved to “high” ahead of a weekend forecasted to be hot and dry.

Managers on the Flathead and Kootenai National Forests are anticipating higher risk for fire starts as temperatures continue into the 90s and dead brush dries out. The “high” fire danger designation means fires can start easily from most causes.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to streamline the process for oil and gas development on federal lands. Zinke signed an order Thursday mandating Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sales be held in each state on at least a quarterly basis.

Zinke noted during a telephone press conference that under the Obama administration BLM fell far short of that legally-mandated limit.

(Flickr Creative Commons) (https://flic.kr/p/8whSKU)

Officials say nobody was injured and nothing was damaged as a result of the largest earthquake in the Helena area since 1935.

“After a strong shake like this, damage assessment is done immediately to determine if there are any problems, and in this case, we were fortunate enough to file none,” said Paul Spengler, the Lewis and Clark County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator.

Fire activity is increasing across the state as the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning today for high temperatures, gusty winds and low humidity for a large portion of central and northeastern Montana. The warning is in effect until 9 p.m tonight.

UPDATED: 9:00 AM Tue 7/5

Despite some favorable conditions  overnight, a large wildfire is still burning too close for comfort near the town of Zortman. 

The July fire is now estimated at 1,669 acres. Initial estimates had the fire at about 1-thousand acres. Wind and terrain carried the fire away from town on Tuesday, but it still managed to creep to within a quarter-mile of Zortman, which is about an hour southwest of Malta and just outside of the Fort Belknap Reservation.

Fire season is off to a slow start this year, but state officials say drought conditions in eastern Montana and rising temperatures across the state could change that.

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