NewsWildfire Watch


Rain reduces fire activity on Divide Complex fires

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Posted at 11:46 AM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 13:46:53-04

HELENA — The recent rain has kept fire activity down on the four fires that make up the Divide Complex. However, crews say the rain has complicated efforts to reach some fire areas. According to the daily briefing report, the rain allowed fire crews to attack the edges of the fires directly but softened unpaved roads to the point where firefighting trucks could not access them without the threat of damaging them.

Fire managers say as temperatures begin to warm and fuel dry out fire activity on the four fires will likely pickup.

American Fork Fire

The American Fork Fire is burning in the central Crazy Mountains and is currently 19,028 acres and 10 percent contained. Officials say heat remains in the Shields River, Lodgepole Creek and Loco Mountain. Providing structure protection in the Shields River is a primary focus. Crews will continue mop up work in the Loop Rd. and Crandall Creek area and build fireline near Buck Creek.

Balsinger and Ellis Fires

The Balsinger and Ellis Fires have burned a combined 9,834 acres and listed at 45 percent contained. The Balsinger Fire is burning west of Neihart. Fire managers say the Balsinger Fire received the most rain from the weekend storm. Areas south of Thunder Mountain and Divide Rd. near Deer Creek are still showing heat. Crews are focused on protecting the communities of Monarch and Neihart, which are about four miles from the fire.

Crews continue to monitor the Ellis Fire by aircraft. Tuesday's report says no smoke has been seen from the fire for a few days, but fuels are likely still smoldering.

Woods Creek Fire

The Woods Creek Fire is the largest of the group. It has burned 45,590 acres and is just three percent contained. The fire is about 16 miles northeast of Townsend and has moved on to private lands. On Tuesday crews will work on building line on the fire's eastern edge and scouting for line locations in the north. Mop up work is being conducted around Confederate Gulch.

Firefighters will use a combination of equipment and hand crews to reduce fire spread to the East along Big Birch drainage and surrounding private lands.

A virtual community meeting about all fires will be tonight at 7 p.m. Join ZoomGov Meeting Meeting ID: 160 078 7603 or watch on Facebook Live or

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Current Evacuation Notices
American Fork Fire

  • A pre-evacuation order remains in place for residences in the Shields River Road area.
  • A mandatory evacuation is still in effect for the Smith Creek area and portions of the Upper Shields River.
  • A pre-evacuation order for Smith Creek subdivision was issued by the Meagher County Sheriff’s Office.

Balsinger Fire

  • An evacuation order for Belt Park, issued by the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, remains in place.
  • A pre-evacuation order was issued for the area from the Belt Creek Ranger Station to Monarch and from west of Monarch to the confluence of Pilgrim Creek and Belt Creek.

Woods Creek Fire

  • The Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order in connection with the Woods Creek Fire.
  • A mandatory evacuation order issued by the Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office remains in place for the Woods Creek Fire, covering everything east of Highway 284 between Gravely Lane on the north and Dry Gulch Road on the south. Ray Creek is on high alert. Highway 284 remains open.
  • A mandatory evacuation of six cabins and Big Birch Creek is in place.
  • The Meagher County Sheriff’s Office issued a Pre-Evacuation Notice for residents on Birky Road and Ramspeck Lane around 5 p.m. Saturday, 8/7.
  • The Meagher County Sheriff’s Office issued a Pre-Evacuation Notice for Grassy Mountain residents north of Highway 12.
  • Meagher County Sheriff’s Department that the Smith Creek evacuation notice has been changed to pre-evac effective immediately.