Residents of southwest Montana may have woken up to smokier skies this weekend due to several wildfires burning west of Big Sky: The Colt Fire in Lolo National Forest north of Missoula; the Bowles Fire in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest; and a small fire that ignited in Yellowstone National Park on July 22.
The Colt Fire is located 15 miles northwest of Seeley Lake and started due to a lightning strike that occurred July 17. As of July 24, spans 2,927 acres, is 0% contained and is growing moderately. According to updates on InciWeb from the Incident Commander, evacuation orders have been issued by Missoula County Sheriff’s office to several areas of residences.
The Bowles Fire is burning southwest of Skalkaho Pass. It was discovered on July 20 after a lightning storm and is currently burning at 1,258 acres as of July 24.
Yellowstone National Park confirmed its first fire of the season on July 24. The Yellowston smokejumpers quickly put out the 0.1-acre lightning-ignited fire was located between Little Cottonwood Creek and Hellroaring Mountain in the northern part of the park. Park officials declared fire danger in the park as HIGH but there are currently no fire restrictions implemented.
Concerns about weather conditions remain after a heat wave struck western states this past weekend, sparking warnings from wildfire meteorologists in the state. In areas where fires are growing, low humidity coupled with high winds makes for a fast-moving fire.
Today’s air quality in Big Sky remains satisfactory; in Missoula air quality is the same—both areas however, are on the higher end of the scale, approaching moderate air quality. In Helena, air quality is moderate.
Read more about fire safety and health at Montana Government’s Department of Environmental Quality.