Photo by Jana Bounds

Wildland fire in the canyon

A 100 acre wildland fire extending from just south of the Riverhouse Grill past the intersection of Highways 64 and 191 is being called the Porcupine Wildfire. Now being managed under unified command by the United States Forest Service (USFS) and Big Sky Fire Department, crews from Yellowstone Club Fire Department and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation are also on the scene. The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office has given evacuation notices to owners of a number of structures near the fire perimeter shortly before a public safety alert was issued stating the fire was “just south of Big Sky, spreading north rapidly and is now across Ophir School.” Structure protection efforts are underway. 

A prescribed burn for aspen restoration was underway by the USFS.  

“We do think it is connected to the Porcupine Prescribed Burn, but it is over a mile away, so we are not sure,” said Marna Daley, Custer Gallatin National Forests Public Affairs Officer. “It certainly appears that the two are connected just because of the timing, but the distance gives a different story. We will have [a fire investigator] look into that to see if they truly are connected.” 

Daley noted that fire progression has seemed to stop. “[It has] burned into a rocky hillside, not actively progressing at any rate at the moment,” she said. 

This is a developing story.

Update 3:33 p.m. : Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Dan Springer said that since the fire has moved east they do not believe there is any threat to the public at this point.

Update 5:30 p.m. : According to Big Sky Fire Department Chief Greg Megaard, the fire is contained at this time, there has been no damage to any structures and no injuries. Big Sky Fire and and the Forest Service will have units patrolling the area throughout the night. There are no road closures at this time. 

Update 10 a.m. Nov. 6: BSFD Fire Chief Greg Megaard said the blaze grew from 100 to 400 acres from yesterday afternoon until the evening. A USFS update this morning stated there was little growth overnight. Twenty eight Forest Service personnel, five engines and one helicopter are on scene today with additional air resources available. Firefighters are focusing efforts on the north and northeastern portions of the fire as windier conditions are forecasted. 

Update 6:15 p.m. Nov. 6: The wildfire is now at 50% containment, according to a USFS press release. More accurate mapping shows the blaze is an estimated 680 acres, but has not grown. Pre-evacuation notices have not been lifted.

Update 9:00 a.m. Nov. 7: Coldfront anticipated to help tame wildfire, according to USFS update. The fire is at 50% containment and with crews working in addition to favorable weather, it is expected to be fully contained by tomorrow. Pre-evacuation notices are still in effect.  

Update 10:00 a.m. Nov. 8: The Porcupine Wildfire is now at 100% containment.

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