Plains

A sign near Plains expresses thanks to firefighters

THOMAS PLANK, Missoulian

Here's the latest Montana fire news, as of Thursday morning.

How you can help: Here is information on how to help. And even more info on how to help.

Stay up to date: Follow Montana Wildfires on Facebook or Twitter for fire updates.

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Evacuations lifted: Residents evacuated due to the Alice Creek fire burning northeast of Lincoln will be allowed to return today, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton announced.

Driest summer since '29: The massive sigh of relief from firefighters, evacuees, sheriff departments, and just about everyone else comes with a question. Rain, what took you so long?

Snow in the forecast: Up to a foot of snow could fall at Beartooth Pass beginning this evening, as a large system of colder, wetter weather is expected to bring rain and high-elevation snow through Saturday afternoon.

Hunkering down: Wild critters can't heed health agency warnings to take refuge indoors from the pall of wildfire smoke smothering the West. They're stuck outside, coping with bad air quality much as they deal with weather extremes throughout the year.

No rest for firefighters: Approaching rain or not, firefighters and managers are keeping shoulders to the grindstone. The most recent mandatory evacuation came in Sanders County at the Sheep Gap fire, between Plains and Thompson Falls, in the Highway 200 Complex.

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Plains fire

Public Information Officer Randolph Harrison, center, talks with local residents Bill Dorn, right, and Jim Stokes on Swamp Creek Road near Plains with the Sheep Gap fire sending up smoke in the distance on Wednesday.

Glacier on notice: And on Wednesday, an evacuation warning was issued for the Apgar area in Glacier National Park because of the Sprague fire.

Bison roundup delayed: The annual roundup at the National Bison Range has been postponed due to tinder dry conditions and weeks of smoke that have pushed back maintenance necessary for the event to be safe.

Wildfire forecasting: On a recent Tuesday morning, LaWen Hollingsworth and Brian Anderson prepared for their latest, and probably last, briefing on the Lolo Peak fire. Hollingsworth and Anderson are both long-term fire analysts, members of a "science team" tasked with trying to predict the Lolo Peak fire's future.

Calls for change: Wildfires that are blackening the American West in one of the nation's worst fire seasons have ignited calls, including from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, to thin forests that have become so choked with trees that they are at "powder keg levels."

Wildfire photos: Our photographers have been documenting this summer's fire season and its effects. Here are the photos.

Historic fires: 2017 has been a rough fire season. Here are photos of some of Montana and Yellowstone's biggest fires

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