GREAT FALLS — The South Moccasin Fire in Fergus County continues burning, and as of Tuesday evening (October 5), it had burned an estimated 11,750 acres.
The fire began on Monday, October 4; the cause of the fire is still being investigated.
The DNRC’s County Assist Team (CAT) assumed command of the fire at noon on Tuesday. Damage assessments conducted in the fire area found five structures destroyed, none of which are primary residences.
There have not been any injuries reported.
According to Inciweb, crews conducted strategic burn operations on the southwest and southeast side of the fire on Tuesday night. This strategy involves burning fuels between constructed dozer line and the main fire, removing ground vegetation that would allow the main fire to progress. Due to an overnight easterly wind shifts, the fire pushed northwest and west. This led to increased, visible fire activity and smoke overnight. Crews are working to contain this area of growth by constructing additional containment lines on the southwest and west areas of the fire.
The fire is about about seven miles northwest of Lewistown in the South Moccasin Mountain Range, and is burning in heavy timber and grass, mostly on private land.
Fire crews have been successful in keeping the fire south of Denton Highway (Highway 81), in part by conducting strategic burn-out operations. Crews will continue to improve constructed fireline, "mop up" hot spots along the fire's edge and patrol the fire's perimeter for any fire activity. Helicopters will support crews on the ground by providing water bucket drops in the fire area as needed.
Unseasonably warm temperatures in the mid to high 70s, ridgetop winds gusting up to 35 mph and low relative humidity in the teens continue to drive substantially fire behavior. The southeastern area of the fire remains the most active, with single and group tree torching. A cold front is expected to pass through the fire area this afternoon but it comes with no chance of precipitation.
The Inciweb site also notes: "If you wish to be involved with the fire through donations or volunteer work, please contact your local volunteer fire department. The County Assist Team is not accepting donations at the fairgrounds at this time but your support is greatly appreciated!"