McALLISTER – Fire season has been threatening to start in Madison County with every 90-degree day and passing thunderstorm.
On Sunday afternoon it looked like fire season may have started in a big way as a plume of smoke suddenly rose from the Washington Bar area of North Meadow Creek in the vicinity of several homes and big open slopes full of tall grass cured brown from the late summer heat.
But the response of local volunteer firefighters along with state and federal firefighters kept the blaze from destroying any structures and at a minimal size.
The fire started late Sunday morning, said Chris Mumme, director of Madison County Emergency Services. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but was human-caused.
The fire was initially attacked by volunteer firefighters from the Madison Valley and Harrison Rural Fire Districts, who sought mutual aid help from volunteer firefighters in Virginia City and Alder.
A dozen smokejumpers from West Yellowstone were also sent to the fire along with two Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation helicopters and engines and Forest Service personnel and equipment.
The blaze burned mostly in grass and timber and quickly burned up a hill toward a home and other structures. At the heart of the fire was a log home, which was a focal point for structure protection for the rural firefighters, Mumme said.
The fire eventually burned to and then around the home that was saved through the diligent efforts of local fire fighters, he said.
By Sunday night, the fire was controlled at 75 acres. By Monday afternoon it was contained, said Paul Roose, assistant fire management officer with the Madison Ranger District.
The fire burned primarily on private land, but also included about 25 acres of Forest Service ground, Roose said.
On Tuesday a 20-person Forest Service hand crew from Oregon worked along with a 10-person helitack crew on continuing to mop up the interior of the fire, he said.
But on Sunday when the fire was still actively burning it was the combined efforts of all agencies and particularly the DNRC helicopters that were the reason the fire was kept relatively small, Mumme said.
On Tuesday, the Madison County Commissioners passed an open burning ban on all private property in Madison County effective immediately and in place until further notice. Any exception to the ban will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must be approved in writing by the local fire department and Madison County Commissioners.
UPDATE, MONDAY 2:30 p.m. – The North Meadow Creek Fire was contained at about 75 acres by 9 p.m. Sunday night and crews continued mopping up the interior of the fire on Monday.
The fire started late Sunday morning near the Washington Bar area of North Meadow Creek, northwest of McAllister, said Chris Mumme, director of Madison County Emergency Services. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but was human-caused.
The fire started in a grassy area and quickly burned up a hill toward a home and other structures. Four of Madison County’s rural fire departments responded along with 12 West Yellowstone smoke jumpers. Eventually the Montana Department of Natural Resources provided two helicopters and engines. The Forest Service also responded with a hand crew and engines.
All told, nearly 90 people staffed the fire, Mumme said.
The fire burned actively in grass and timber most of the afternoon, he said.
At the heart of the fire was a log home, which was a focal point for structure protection for the rural firefighters, Mumme said.
The fire eventually burned around the home, but it was saved through the diligent efforts of local fire fighters, he said.
The DNRC helicopters also aided in keeping the fire relatively small, Mumme said.
Volunteer fire fighters from Harrison, Madison Valley, Virginia City and Alder responded to the fire.
SUNDAY 4 p.m. – A fire reported late Sunday morning is actively burning in grass and timber between North and South Meadow Creek. Little information about the fire was known Sunday afternoon, but fire engines and personnel from Montana Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service, Madison County and volunteer fire districts around the area are on scene. We will post information as it becomes available.