The Bridger Foothills Fire was detected around 3:00 pm on Friday, September 4, 2020. The lightning caused fire was the result of a storm several days prior, in late August. The fire is located approximately 2.5 miles northeast of Bozeman, Montana. Initial attack forces from local fire departments, US Forest Service and cooperators responded immediately, but were unsuccessful in halting the fire given the extreme dry conditions. By Friday night the fire had grown to approximately 400 acres.
Local resources attempted extended attack that Saturday, but a frontal passage with strong winds pushed the fire to an estimated 7000 acres. During this major push by the fire, the Gallatin County Sheriff initiated evacuations in the Bridger Canyon area, along with road closures. The Custer Gallatin National Forest implemented an area closure within and to the north of the fire. Exceeding the capacity of local resources to contain the fire, authorities ordered a National Type 1 Incident Management Team. The Rocky Mountain Area Type 1 team was ordered and assumed command of the fire on Monday morning, September 7.
On Sunday, September 20 the Northern Rockies Type 2, Incident Management Team 5 transferred command of the fire back to a local Type 3 team. Resources are being released as appropriate to right-size the incident.
On Friday, Oct 2, the fire transitioned to Type 4 status with Paul Monforton as Incident Commander.
After multiple days of warm, dry temperatures and red flag warnings, the fire did not increase in size or show significant fire activity. Crews continued to patrol, grid, mop-up and perform rehab on suppression lines.
On Sunday October 11, a cold front moved over the area and dropped welcome moisture on the fire. This precipitation, combined with the lack of fire perimeter growth, continued work of crews to increase containment and general overall seasonal conditions brought the fire to 100% containment on Monday, October 12.
At this point, the Type 4 Team handed over all remaining patrol and monitoring to the local Bozeman Ranger District, with support from the Bridger Canyon Fire Department.
The fire area closure has been lifted and all areas and trails in the Bridger Range are now open to the public.
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