Montana 1k Acre Wildfire 0% Contained: Firefighters Unable to Enter Area

by Taylor Cunningham

The over 1,000-acre wildfire that’s raging in Helena National Forest remains 0% contained as masses of dry timber fuel the flames and make it unsafe for firefighters to enter the area by ground.

In an update, the Powell County Sheriff’s Office said officials have been assessing the risks. And they’ve determined that, for the time being, the only way to extinguish the flames is by plane because it is “neither safe nor effective to put fire personnel into the area.” 

“Fire personnel [is] managing from the air, while other firefighters are observing the fire’s progression, activity, and overall behavior within the planning area from various vantage points on the district,” the department said

Luckily, No Grass Creek Fire is not presently threatening homes, businesses, or private properties due to its remote location. So workers are hoping to find a means of shrinking and containing the flames while allowing them to serve their natural ecological purpose.

Montana Wildfire Leading to Air Quality Alerts

Wildfires have been occurring naturally since the beginning of time. They clear away dead debris, turn it into ash, and provide nutrients to the soil. They also make way for new growth and rebuild ecosystems. In many cases, park rangers will even create controlled burns in specific struggling areas. And if fires happen naturally, officials allow them to run their course as long as the flames and smoke do not put any people in danger.

While the Montana wildfire is miles away from civilization, it is causing problems with its massive smoke plumes. As they continue to rise. the region has issued air quality alerts for Western Montana counties.

“Many active wildfires in western Montana, Idaho, and eastern Oregon are putting out smoke that has blanketed much of the state,” the Montana Department of Environmental Quality said Monday (Sept. 12).

Officials expected some relief to come on Tuesday when scattered showers moved through the area. But the moisture did nothing to quell the fire. Since Wednesday, the fire has consumed more than 300 additional acres. And now, many of the warned counties have been instructed to avoid all outdoor activity.

Wildfire smoke can irritate and inflame the lungs causing people to become more susceptible to respitory infections. People breathing the pollution may experience a dry cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing. Children, senior citizens, and pregnant women are the most vulnerable.

People living in the affected areas should consider wearing an N95 respirator before heading outdoors. And to keep the air quality in homes safe, they should keep all doors and windows shut and set air conditioners to recirculate indoor air.