With the forecast of hot, dry weather for the next week or so, the last thing we need is a new wildfire start, but we have one. The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest reported a human-caused fire start yesterday (July 9, 2024) afternoon, two miles north of Canyon Ferry Reservoir.

The Horse Gulch Fire is now estimated to be 200 acres, burning in an area of dense timber, and is expected to be very active today with the forecast of hot, dry and windy conditions. Montana DNRC firefighters are focusing their efforts on the western and southern flanks, where there are values at risk. They're being assisted by local volunteers from the York and Tri-Lakes fire departments. Lewis & Clark County Sheriff's Office has not issued any evacuation orders, but have asked people to avoid the Cave Gulch and Jim Town areas to allow crews to work.

This is the fourth fire this month in the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest. According to a post on the forest's Facebook page, on Tuesday, July 2nd the York and Tri-Lakes VFDs and DNRC firefighters responded to a small wildfire ignited by a hot exhaust pipe in tall, dry grass. Early morning July 4th, they were called to a camper fire, and on July 7th they dealt with a slash pile burn that got out of control.

On June 24th, a the Judith-Musselshell Ranger District reported a new fire southwest of Stanford. Called the "Rising Wolf Fire," it was declared contained at 93 acres on July 1st, and its cause is still being investigated.

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