> Wildland fires west of Missoula believed to be human-caused

Wildland fires west of Missoula believed to be human-caused

UPDATE: 10:03 p.m. – July 23, 2022

MISSOULA – Officials say a series of fires near the Wye, east of US Highway 93, are believed to be human-caused.

The fires did threaten homes in the area on Saturday evening.

Officials say homeowners were notified, but no evacuation orders are in place and no homes had to evacuate.

RAW VIDEO: Wildfires burning west of Missoula

The Frenchtown Rural Fire District (FRFD) reports the six small fires that started near train tracks have burned 345 acres.

According to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Wildfire Dashboard the fire is human-caused.

FRFD confirmed the fires are believed to have been caused by a malfunction of a train.

Wye Fire

James Dobson/MTN News

Officials say an investigation will be conducted, and that the Montana Rail Link was sent to collect the train.

The group of fires is being referred to as the Polecat Fire.

Two helicopters and two small planes were seen overhead Saturday evening dropping water and retardant.

Wye Wildife

Jill Valley/MTN News

Fire officials said crews were continuing night operations and started mop-up efforts shortly after 9 p.m.

FRFD requested the assistance of seven other local fire agencies to battle the fires.

An MTN News on the scene said the fires appeared to be burning in grass.

– information from Katie Miller, Mark Thorsell and James Dobson included in this report.


(third report: 8:19 p.m. – July 23, 2022)

MISSOULA – According to the latest update from the Frenchtown Rural Fire District (FRFD), crews are contending with an estimated six fires north and east of the Wye.

The six different fires are located along the railroad tracks in the area.

FRFD notes that no homes have been evacuated and additional crews have arrived at the fires.

According to an online map from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, what is being called the Polecat Fire was reported shortly after 5 p.m. and has burned a total of 200 cares.


(second report: 7:47 p.m. – July 23, 2022)

MISSOULA – A large grass fire is burning in the area of the Wye west of Missoula.

The fire is burning to the east of Highway 93 just north of the Wye.

The Frenchtown Rural Fire District earlier reported some homes in the area were being threatened.

Two helicopters and two small planes have been dropping water and retardant on the fire.


(first report 6:18 p.m. – July 23, 2022

MISSOULA – Homes are being threatened by a series of wildfires burning near the Wye west of Missoula.

Frenchtown Rural Fire District spokesman Mel Holtz says crews are responding to four small fires in the area.

One fire is estimated at around four acres, and one was approximately 10 acres as of Saturday evening.

The fires are occurring in an area between Indreland Road to Tucker Lane.

The Missoula Rural Fire District, Arlee, and the East Missoula fire departments have been called to the scene — as well as the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and the US Forest Service.

Two helicopters can be seen in the area. Holtz said two additional single-engine air tankers have been requested.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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