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Moss Ranch fire continues to burn near Ronan

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RONAN–Lightning sparked a fire on July 23 that is burning grass and timber 14 miles southwest of Ronan, just west of the Flathead River. A local type three incident management team is managing the blaze with 170 personnel assigned to the fire. 

By July 26, the fire had grown to 450 acres and was 10 percent contained. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Division of Fire decided to perform a controlled burnout operation the morning of July 27. Fire management staff lit a controlled fire from a helicopter in the region of the existing fire.

“We were looking out for firefighter safety,” Fire Management Specialist C.T. Camel said. “It’s steep, rocky, rugged terrain, and we didn’t want to put the firefighters in there.”

This technique was used to form a line of control for the fire and eliminate fuel that the fire would have burned anyway. Camel said that the area would have burned over the next month had the controlled burnout not helped it along.

A helicopter, eight type-six engines, one ambulance and four dozers were among the equipment assigned to the fire. According to a press release from the CSKT division of fire, the operation was a success and the control lines held. After the burnout, the fire was at 4,868 acres and 10 percent contained.

On July 27, fire personnel continued to monitor the fire in the face of high winds. Firefighters focused on controlling actively by burning areas near the fire’s perimeter. Camel said the morning of July 28 efforts to control the fire had been effective. “It’s looking really good,” he said. On July 28 the fire was 5,310 acres and 40 percent contained. 

As of July 27, the fire had not threatened infrastructure or forced evacuations; however, the Nenemay Road, FB-1000 and FB-4000 roads are closed. The division of fire cautions Mission Valley residents and asks people to stay out of the burning area and adhere to road closures for their safety.

The Moss Ranch Fire is a sizeable early-season blaze. “Fire season is just getting to Montana,” Camel said. “It’s drying out, and we’re in high fire danger right now.”



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