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The conditions that allowed the Olin fire to quickly spread to more than 1,200 acres over the weekend has one fire official concerned.

"We're early in the lightning season," said Mike Granger, fire management officer for the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Lewistown. "And if we get fires that can grow like that it tells me we have a lot of residual grasses from the last two years built up."

The Olin fire was sparked by lightning that struck days before the fire burst to life on Friday nourished by strong winds. It burned across public and private land between Alkali and Drag creeks west of the Musselshell River and about 40 miles north of Winnett.

Interagency fire crews were quick to corral the blaze, which was turned over to the CMR on Monday. Granger said the fire is now in patrol status, with crews driving the perimeter daily looking for any signs of life.

"We're lucky because it was still green in a lot of places," Granger said. "When the fire got into the flats it was green enough to slow the fire. And of course we had the Musselshell and Trail 79 (road) to help contain it."

The fire was the first big blaze in Montana this season.

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Montana Untamed Editor

Montana Untamed editor for the Billings Gazette.