Gallatin County implements burn ban
By Brandon Walker EBS STAFF
UPDATED SEPT. 6 7:00 P.M.
BOZEMAN – An infrared mapping flight occurred on the evening of Sept. 5 to better determine the extent and range of the Bridger Foothills Fire. As of 8:15 a.m. on Sept. 6 the fire was more accurately estimated at 7,000 acres, down roughly 4,000 acres from an evening update on Sept. 5 that listed it at 11,000 acres.
At an afternoon public meeting, officials said the fire is beginning to pick up around the northwest corner and remains 0 percent contained. Authorities continue to investigate the cause.
On the evening of Sept. 6, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office announced residents of Bridger Canyon may return to their residences on Sept. 7 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., but need to leave again at the conclusion of that timeframe.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin asked individuals who are looking to make donations, assist, or have questions to call 211. Gallatin County Health Officer Matt Kelley noted that the air quality is fluctuating from moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups.
Around 12:30 p.m. the sheriff’s office began contacting individuals who live within Moffit Gulch regarding the possibility of a future evacuation announcement.
Later in the afternoon Park County officials began contacting individuals who live in or between the Quinn, Fleshman, O’rea and Willow Creek areas regarding a possible evacuation announcement to come.
The Custer Gallatin National Forest relayed the implementation of a temporary flight restriction around the Bridger Foothills Fire. Authorities noted drone sightings on the afternoon of Sept. 6 and asked all unauthorized flight to cease.
Additionally, on the morning of Sept. 6 Gallatin County implemented a burn ban. Lasting until Sept. 8, all campfires, recreational fires, burn barrel usage and burning of fields are prohibited.
The sheriff’s office reports that Bridger Bowl ski area has not been affected by the fire to this point. Bridger Canyon residents were briefly permitted by the sheriff’s office to return to their homes on the morning of Sept. 6 until 11 a.m.
One hundred-twenty first responders are working the fire with additional crews on their way.
One firefighter was struck by a rock as it rolled downhill on Sept. 5 but was discharged after receiving treatment. Three other firefighters were discharged after receiving treatment for heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation at the Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital.
Six helicopters continue to douse the blaze with water and single-engine airtankers are ready to assist if necessary. They’re aided by the firefighters and smokejumpers on the ground, including three type II handcrews and the Midnight Sun Interagency Hotshot Crew. A type I incident management crew was called to the scene and is expected to arrive the morning of Sept. 7.
According to a Custer Gallatin National Forest press release, “The Bridger Foothills Fire had an extremely active day on Saturday with high temps, low relative humidity and sustained winds 10-20 mph, gusts to 30 mph and a cold front passage.”
Buildings were burned in the fire on Sept. 5, but an exact count has not been released.
This is a developing story. EBS will provide updates as information becomes available.