Wildfire Near Ronan Has ‘Nowhere to Go’

Firefighters prepare to demobilize after battle with 5,310-acre Moss Ranch Fire that started last week

By Justin Franz
The Moss Ranch Fire near Ronan. Photo Courtesy of CSKT Division of Fire.

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Moss Ranch Fire was 60 percent contained as of Monday

CSKT firefighters respond to nearby human-caused fire along Flathead River  

—Fire danger on Flathead National Forest “High”

Updated: 2:45 p.m., July 29

Firefighters on the Flathead Indian Reservation are preparing to demobilize after making significant progress battling the Moss Ranch Fire southwest of Ronan.

As of July 29, the fire had burned approximately 5,310 acres along the Flathead River. The fire is 60 percent contained and C.T. Camel, fire prevention specialist for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Division of Fire, said he expects the entire blaze to be contained by the end of the week. About 170 firefighters are assigned to the fire but that number was expected to drop in the coming days.

The lightning-caused fire began last week and grew significantly after firefighters opted to fight fire with fire by reducing the amount of fuel around the blaze during a back burn operation.

“The fire has nowhere to go now,” Camel said. “We’re demobilizing … and moving on to the next one.”

Camel said the interior of the fire area would remain active as it burns untouched fuel but that it is unlikely it will expand.

On July 28, firefighters battling the Moss Ranch Fire responded to another blaze that started along the Flathead River because of an unattended campfire. The Nenemay Fire burned 17 acres before firefighters were able to contain it. Camel said the fire was a good reminder that people should always make sure their fires are completely out before leaving.

Two other major fires are currently burning in the western part of the state. In Helena, the North Hills Fire has burned 4,225 acres and forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes. Near Missoula, the 182-acre Beeskove Fire has closed a number of trails in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area.

Warm temperatures this week will elevate the fire danger across much of western Montana. On July 29, the Flathead National Forest increased its fire danger to “high.”

The story will be updated when additional information becomes available.