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Montana Fire Update

Wildland Firefighting Crews Train In Montana
Stock Footage – (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Montana Firefighters continue to battle dozens of fires around the state. Air quality here in the Gallatin Valley continues to be poor because of these fires, the largest of which are the Sapphire Complex Fire 25 miles east of Missoula, and the Lolo Peak Fire also near Missoula. Here’s an update on some of the larger fires burning right now in Montana as of Sunday morning.

Sapphire Complex Fire: Over 36,000 acres burned 25 miles east of Missoula, south of I-90 in the Rock Creek drainage. Nearly 500 firefighter personnel are working this fire.
Fire behavior is increasing as fuels dry out under hotter and dryer weather conditions. Main driver of fire spread is wind. Fuels have high probability of ignition. Group torching and long range spotting on exposed areas and ridge tops driven by gusty winds. Wind driven runs through flashy fuels contribute to increased fire spread. Fire intensities are high due to heavy dead and down fuels. Less than 50% contained.

Lola Peak Fire: Over 30,000 acres burned. Started 10 miles southwest of Lolo, Montana. Over 600 firefighters are battling the blaze. It’s currently the state’s largest fire. Critical fire weather over the fire area. Extreme fire behavior is expected. Wind driven fire, with uphill crown runs, torching and spotting is likely. Some evacuations are currently in place.

Little Hogback Fire: More than 27,000 acres burned 27 miles southeast of Missoula. Started back on July 13th. Still less than 20% contained.

Sunrise Fire: Approaching 30,000 acres burned. 11 miles southeast of Superior, MT. Fire is moving down towards Trout Creek. Continued fire growth to the north, east and south will threaten structures log-range spotting with the expected gusty southwest winds has the potential to cross the Clark Fork River and I-90,impacting traffic, Montana Rail Link, Transmissions and additional structures. Burnouts along control lines will be necessary to direct the main fire front away from communities.

Thanks to all of our Montana Firefighters who are out there fighting these and other fighters! Please know you are appreciated!

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