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Firefighters continue battling wildfire near Bannack

Posted at 2:52 PM, Jul 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 11:12:42-04

“That was perfect, Mike, we’ll take another one right through there,” the radio dispatcher said after a helicopter dropped water on a wildfire burning southwest of Dillon.

Fire crews with air support are busy this week trying to control the Bannack Fire in Beaverhead County, which is the first major wildfire in Montana this year.

As of Friday afternoon, the fire was 151 acres and 20 percent contained. It was first detected on July 23.

“We’re making a lot of progress. The first night it grew to about 150 acres and it hasn’t really grown since then,” said Incident Commander Jackson Spooner.

A lightning strike started the fire about a mile south of Bannack and is burning in rocky terrain of sage, grass, and timber. More than 60 firefighters and two helicopters have been working to stop the fire from spreading.

“Around noon or a little bit after noon, we’re starting to enter our burning period, the prime time when fire behavior starts to increase, our relative humidity start dropping and our temperatures start to increase. Might start seeing more smoke off the fire, anywhere from this time to about 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon,” said Don Copple, the Fire Management Officer for the DNRC, said Thursday.

Flames can be seen in the burn zone of the Bannack fire and there are hotspots around the area. Crews said they have a handle on the fire, but they’re not ready to say it’s contained.

“We got a lot of spots on the northside of that fire and just getting a handle on those, trying to find them, that’s our biggest challenge,” said Spooner.

Officials said no structures in the area are threatened by the fire and the town of Bannack remains open for business.

-Reported by John Emeigh/MTN News