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South Fork Loop Fire contained, cause under investigation

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PHOTO BY JOSEPH T. O'CONNOR

Big Sky Fire Department and partnering agencies issue quick response

By Mira Brody EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – The South Fork Loop Fire, which started on June 17, is fully contained following a quick response by the Big Sky Fire Department and partnering agencies, including the Yellowstone Club Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service and the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.

“We had an awesome response from the valley and Yellowstone Club [fire departments], and were highly effective at putting it out,” said Seth Barker, deputy fire chief with BSFD.

PHOTO BY JOSEPH T. O’CONNOR

The South Fork Loop Fire was first reported on Thursday at 4:04 p.m. When BSFD arrived on scene, a single tree was ablaze near the South Fork Loop trailhead and the department immediately requested mutual aid but canceled soon after when they were able to gain initial fire control. However, crews quickly realized that there was risk of spot fires from embers and continued mutual aid resources to assist.

The fire was fully contained by 6 p.m. BSFD transferred command to U.S. Forest Service crews who remained on site to monitor potential hot spots as of Thursday evening. No evacuations were issued, but parts of Aspen Leaf Drive and Grey Drake Road were closed during the incident. The fire remained under an acre and the cause is still under investigation.

VIDEO BY JC KNAUB

According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 46 percent of the contiguous U.S. is under drought conditions and Montana is expected to see above-average wildfire conditions this summer. BSFD urges the community to be diligent, as trees are currently at August moisture levels.

“We have to be diligent to minimize unnecessary ignitions this year because this is just a sneak peak into how volatile of a fire season this could be for us,” BSFD stated in a June 18 press release.

There are currently three active fires in Montana; the Deep Creek Canyon Fire near Townsend, the Robertson Draw Fire in Red Lodge and the Crooked Creek Fire in the Pryor Mountains.

“Be super careful out there,” advised Barker. “We’re in a very dangerous season.”

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