GREAT FALLS — Four fires started sparked on Thursday on the Belt Creek-White Sulphur Ranger District of the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest.
As of Friday afternoon, the Balsinger Fire is estimated at 60 acres, the Ellis Fire is estimated at 110 acres, and the Iron Mines Fire is less than an acre and smoldering.
The three fires are being managed together as the Divide Complex by staff from the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest, neighboring forests, and the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation. The Den Gulch Fire, also referred to as the Middle Fire, is no longer a fire of concern, according to Forest spokesperson Chiara Cipriano.
“We are using a full suppression strategy to manage these fires that are currently burning west of the White Sulphur, Monarch, and Neihart communities,” said District Ranger Carol Hatfield in a news release. “With many large incidents nationwide, resources are spread thin.”
A closure order is in place for the Balsinger and Iron Mines fires and the protection of the public and firefighters. The trail closures apply to all National Forest System trails and roads, including those segments from the Taylor Hills trailhead on the Divide Road (Forest Service Road #839) to the Belt Park Connector (Forest Service Road #6511), including trails #304, #305, #315, #344, and #343. The entire length of the Old Divide Road #253 is closed.
There have been no injuries and no damaged buildings/structures. The cause of the fires has not yet been determined.