Weekend Winds Stir Up Fires in Montana

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Strong winds increased fire activity in Montana over the weekend, but the National Weather Service said a cold front expected Tuesday afternoon could bring rain and even snow to higher elevations.

Fires, some caused by lightning as far back as July, are burning in the Bitterroot and Flathead national forests, in the Wisdom and Anaconda areas along with the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

The 230-acre MacDonald Pass fire, which was human caused, had led to evacuation orders for residents of Clausen Road at the base of the pass. On Monday, the road was open only to residents. Residents of Rimini and Colorado Gulch are on evacuation alert. The fire is 15 percent contained.

The Table Mountain fire southwest of Philipsburg, which has burned 3,800 acres or nearly six square miles, was nearing a group of 11 cabins in the Frogpond Basin historic mining area. The closest cabins were wrapped while sprinkler systems were set up near other cabins.

The Saddle Mountain fire near Arlee, which fire officials say was an arson, has burned 471 acres and is 30 percent contained. Another fire burned more than 350 acres south of the Bridger Bowl ski area this weekend.