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Weather Wise: Recent Wildfire History

Wildfire in Montana
Posted at 5:56 PM, Jul 03, 2023

Montana is in a great position compared to years past with regard to wildfires around the 4th of July. However, things can change.

Things likely will change, but for right now let's enjoy the position the state is in. In years past, things have been quite different. Last year, 2022 was a quiet year with only 125,000 total acres burned. The Indian Ridge Fire in the Bitterroot started July 7, and most of the fires occurred in late August into the beginning of September.

2021 was quite a different year. By July 4th, the Robertson Draw Fire already was burning south of Red Lodge. That was the year of the Deep Creek Canyon Fire when a DNRC helicopter crashed on June 15. Drought and record heat plagued the state and nearly 940,000 acres burned in total.

Tthe year 2020 was fairly quiet with 380,000 acres burned in total. The Lump Gulch Fire south of Helena started June 13, burning in a high wind storm. The state had the majority of acres burned in early September.

Do you remember anything from the years 2018 or 2019? That's because only a combined 150,000 acres burned across those two summers.

And then of course the record year of 2017, when 1.3 million acres scorched the state. Extreme drought through the spring had Montana primed to go off. The July Fire near Zortman in the Little Rocky Mountains kicked off the season on July 3. That fire would end up around 12,000 acres. Other blazes that summer included the Rice Ridge, Alice Creek, Park Creek and Lodgepole fires. That season came to an abrupt end in September with a late summer snowstorm.

Things are going to change, but for right now let's enjoy the present.