Montana’s wildland fire season got off to a hot start on Friday as a suspected lightning-caused blaze that smoldered for days sprang to life nurtured by wind and burned more than 1,300 acres by Monday.
“The serious threat is over and they are in mop-up operations,” said BLM spokesman Jonathan Moor.
The Olin fire was reported at 1 p.m. on June 20 and is burning on private, Bureau of Land Management and Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge lands west of the Musselshell River between Crooked Creek Road to the north and 79 Trail to the south, about 25 miles northeast of Winnett.
No structures were threatened. Control of the fire was transferred to the CMR on Monday after the blaze was nearly contained.
The fire management escalated from a local Type 4 to a state Type 3 team on Saturday after 25-30 mph winds increased the fire’s size and activity, causing spotting and torching in steep terrain. About 100 personnel were fighting the fire at its peak, including two helicopters and 11 engines from a variety of agencies.
The fire was burning from the west to the east, prompting fire officials to dispatch Petroleum County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement personnel to the Crooked Creek Recreation Area at the mouth of the Musselshell River in case the
campground needed to
Moor said about 20 campers were put on alert on Sunday but firefighters were able to contain the blaze and keep it at a safe distance. That was aided by the fact that fire has burned in the area before, removing large fuels from the landscape.
The National Weather Service was predicting mild conditions for the fire area on Monday with winds of 9 mph and a temperature around 79 degrees. Winds should remain calm through the night with the temperature dropping to 58 degrees. Tuesday’s forecast is for isolated thunderstorms with a high around 80 degrees with wind out of the east at 6 to 11 mph.