GREAT FALLS — Governor Greg Gianforte on Tuesday received an update on wildfires in Montana. Currently, there are 25 large fire incidents in Montana. The state remains in Preparedness Level 5, and the Northern Rockies region is the number three priority region in the nation.
Since January 1, there have been 2,040 fire starts in Montana, which have collectively burned about 792,000 acres. Since the governor’s fire briefing last Tuesday, there have been 96 new fire starts. Officials estimate approximately 50 residences have been lost this year to fire.
The largest fire currently burning in Montana is the Richard Spring Fire southeast of Billings; it has burned about 170,000 acres and is at 65% containment. The top priority fire in Montana is the West Lolo Complex-Thorne Fire, at 32,121 acres and 15% containment.
The most recent wildfire in north-central Montana is the Pine Grove Fire burning on the Fort Belknap Reservation. It was discovered on Monday, August 16, and is managed as a Type 3 Incident with 87 personnel on site. As of Tuesday evening, it has burned an estimated 17,325 acres, and is 7% contained.
Montana entered the fiscal year with the Fire Suppression Fund at its statutory maximum of roughly $105 million. Officials estimate that nearly $39.2 million from the fund have been spent fighting fire since the start of the state’s current fiscal year.