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Dry, windy conditions spark winter grass fires in Musselshell and Carbon Counties

Posted at 12:02 PM, Dec 19, 2018
and last updated 2019-07-17 14:50:42-04

BILLINGS – As winds pick up around the state, multiple small grass fires have been reported recently.

In south Musselshell County, a blaze grew to around 50 to 60 acres in size Wednesday.

Hawke Creek, Melstone and Roundup fire departments were on the scene along with a dozer and two blades working to cut a fire line.

There was no immediate information on what started the fire, but burn restrictions have been put into place in Musselshell County and Carbon County.

In Carbon County, a grass fire was reported overnight between Robert’s and Joliet.

While we tend not to expect grass fires in December when temperatures are much lower than they are in the summer wildfire season, low humidity and wind values are actually more impactful in creating fire weather conditions.

Another important factor at this time of year is low or no snow cover in many places. This lack of cover exposes grasses and potential fire fuels to the dry winter air.

Couple these initial conditions with the elevated winds we have experienced and the stage is set for winter wildfires.

Of course, a spark is still needed to start the fire and the most common culprit in the summer months, lightning, is out of the question. Currently, there have been no reports on what started either of the fires.