Montana Coal Seam Fire is Out After Smoldering for Decades

Settler's Stripping Coal Fire is out after 70 years

By Justin Franz

GREAT FALLS — A fire that smoldered for decades in an underground coal seam in southeastern Montana has been extinguished.

Bill Snoddy with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality says the Settler’s Stripping Coal Fire is out and reclamation work on the Treasure County site is underway.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that Snoddy said the fire burned for as long as 70 years after a lightning strike hit an exposed section of the 15-foot-thick seam.

It was put out at the request of a landowner who grazes cattle nearby. Snoddy says there were worries it would spark a wildfire on the surface.

Since 1997, the DEQ has extinguished 36 fires in areas where coal was mined on state and private lands.

There are 3,200 abandoned coal mines in Montana.