HELENA – Local firefighters got a quick jump Monday on a wildland fire caused by a lightning strike on Sunday.

Four trucks from Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire and a wildland engine from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation were called to the fire on a ridge north of Elkhorn Road.

Thanks to a homeowner who opened a series of gates on his property, firefighters stopped the fire at a quarter acre in size.

Tri-Lakes Fire Chief Robert Lake said lightning struck a tree and traveled downward to duff on the forest floor, quickly burning through one foot of extremely dry pine needles, pinecones and other dead vegetation.

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Chief Drake said conditions in our area are too dry. “I always say, if we go 15 days without moisture, and we’re getting close to the 30th day,” he added.

“I mean, we are in bad shape. And we just don’t need any starts at all, or they’re going to get big.”

Chief Drake urged homeowners in the wildland-urban interface to remove any flammable material, like pine needles and other dead vegetation away from their homes.

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