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Wildfire Near Ronan Grows to 4,800 Acres

Firefighters say yesterday’s burnout was a success

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—Moss Ranch Fire grows from 450 acres to 4,800 acres following burnout operation

Fire could grow this afternoon as windy cold front arrives 

Fire near Helena forces evacuations 

Updated: 12:20 p.m., July 27

The Moss Ranch Fire near Ronan grew to more than 4,800 acres on Friday following a successful burnout operation to starve the fire of fuel.

The lightning-caused fire, located 14 miles southwest of Ronan on the Flathead Indian Reservation, has been burning since July 23.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes firefighters are expecting another busy day on the fireline as a dry cold front will bring strong winds this afternoon. More than 170 firefighters are assigned to the fire.

No structures are threatened but three roads — Nenemay Road, FB-1000 Road and FB-4000 Road — are all closed.

Elsewhere in the state, a small wildfire led to the evacuation of about 100 homes north of Helena while fire crews halted work on a blaze in southwestern Montana after crews found unexploded artillery shells.

Fire managers made an aggressive attack on a fire north of Lake Helena on Friday, using three air tankers and two helicopters. However, when the winds shifted, Lewis and Clark County officials ordered evacuations in an area north of the lake and west of the Missouri River.

As of Saturday morning, that fire had burned about 100 acres.

This story will be updated with additional information when it becomes available.