July Fire photo courtesy of BLM

HELENA – The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation announced Wednesday that in the last 24 hours, 17 new fires have been reported in the Northern Rocky Mountain area. The total area burned is at 1,427 acres.

They also reported that two large fires are currently burning uncontained, the July Fire and the Howard Fire. The DNRC considers anything over 100 acres to a large wildfire.

The July Fire, one mile southwest of Zortman has been burning since Monday and so far has burned a reported 1,669 acres. Fire officials are using a full suppression strategy. The fire is burning timber with litter, grass, and understory.

At this time the fire is zero percent contained. No cause has been determined. However, no evacuations are in place.

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The Howard Fire first reported on Monday, 14 miles southeast of Forsyth, is also zero percent contained, according to the DNRC. It has burned an estimated 371 acres and is burning in timber and short grass. The DNRC also reports active fire behavior with running and creeping.

Several other fires have been reported across the state in the last week. In eastern Montana, 40 fires have been reported since June 26; conditions are dry and fire danger is high. Other parts of the state have reported high numbers of fires as well.

In the southern part of the state, 61 small fires have been reported in the last week; the largest burning 97 acres. The DNRC reported that most were human caused.

In northern Montana, 20 fires have been reported, including the July Fire.

In the central part of the state, only a couple of fires have been reported. One is the North Hills Three Fire.

In the northwestern part of the state, 19 fires have been reported which included fires in the Lolo National Forest and the Kootenai National Forest burning between 45 and 80 acres.

On Wednesday, Yellowstone Park officials moved the fire danger level from Low to moderate as of Wednesday. Officials said the recent warm and dry weather prompted the change.

Park officials also noted that no fire-related restriction closures are in place and that campfires are only allowed in distinguished fire rings in 11 designated campgrounds and most back country campsites.

Just a reminder from park officials to prevent fires, extinguish campfires and make sure they are cold to the touch after use. Also, fireworks are not allowed in the park or on any federal lands.