The Moss Ranch Fire on the Flathead Indian Reservation has grown to 450 acres in a matter of days. Firefighters are in the middle of a large controlled burn in an effort to contain the fire.

C.T. Camel, with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Division of Fire, said the burnout will wrap up sometime this evening, and when it does, the fire’s perimeter will have expanded to more than 5,600 acres.

"The interior stuff will continue to burn for a week or so, but it’ll be controlled up to the grass."

He says one of the objectives of the burnout was to move the fire off of steep rocky areas onto flat grasslands where firefighters can move around safely.

The fire is burning on tribal trust lands typically used for cattle grazing. Camel says no structures or people are endangered.

There are 160 people helping to fight the fire, including three agencies: the CSKT tribal fire department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Forest Service.

As of 1 p.m. Friday, the fire it was 10% contained.

Once the burnout finishes tonight, Camel says crews will start to close-in on the fire and shrink its perimeter.


The incident commander on the Beeskove Fire burning about six miles north of Missoula says he’s bracing for some weather-related challenges this weekend.

Dave Williams is in charge of the 95 people fighting the fire that’s burning about 35 acres in the Lolo National Forest up Rattlesnake Creek.

"We’re expecting to potentially see some pretty high winds tomorrow with that cold front passage. If we can keep the fire parked relatively close to where it’s at now, that’ll buy us some more time to continue looking at how to get around it. If those winds take this fire outside it’s current perimeter, it’s going to get a lot more challenging to figure out how we’re going to get around it."

Williams says he doesn’t think there’s a "significant concern" for homes in the upper Rattlesnake area, but that that could change rapidly.

Two more Hotshot crews are expected to arrive on the fire this weekend. Today, three helicopters were dropping water on it, and more have been ordered.

The fire stands at zero percent contained.

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