By Montana Grant

Posted: September 20, 2020

The Bridger Mountains, along highway 84, are still afire. The fire is about 72% contained. When you drive along the road, you will see a patchwork of charred areas, burned buildings, dead livestock, and active firefighting.

Hotspots are still being contained. This fore has burned over 8,224 acres. Over 300 firefighters are on site. This fire, which began by the M-Trail, is still being investigated. Rain and snow helped to slow the fire down. Some of the land is public but much is private.

Rumors abounded on how the fire started. Sadly, most wildfires are started from human activity. Abandoned campfires, fireworks, smoking butts, or intentional arson are common catalysts. Some said that an ANTIFA group was responsible. One story that I heard was that a hiker was burning toilet paper after a Rest Stop, and the flames took off. Others suggested transients camping on the mountain started the fire.

Forest Fire Detectives have been analyzing the scene and are concluding hat a lightening strike was to blame. A few days prior to the fire, Lightening was witnessed striking the Mountain. Apparently, it hit a tree that smoldered for a few days before taking off. When the fire did start up, conditions were perfect for the fire to explode and spread.

These Leftover fires are common. The forest duff, roots, or old bark and wood can form embers that last for a week or more.

28 homes burned. Many others were damaged from smoke and ashes. Many corrals and sheds burned up. Homes with proper fire preparation fared best. One home, with extensive rock pathways, gardens, and patios had few trees within 50 feet of the home. The fire went over and around the developed property. Metal siding and roofing was also an important fire preventer.

The Forest Service can survey your property and help you develop a plan. No human life was lost.

Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem. Rebirth of forests, grasses, and wildlife is quick to respond. Proper Forest thinning and management is key to future fire prevention and maintain a healthy environment that gradually changes. Clearcutting, firebreaks, and removal of dead and downed fuels are essential.  Without forest management, the forest and grasslands burn up and are wasted for years to come.

Living in a forest is like living in a matchbox.

Montana Grant

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