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Bridger Foothills Fire

Unit Information

Custer Gallatin National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
10 East Babcock Ave.
Bozeman, MT 59771

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Incident Contacts

Fire Information Line
Phone: 406-219-7052
Hours: 8 am - 8 pm

Media Line
Phone: 406-219-7136
Hours: 8 am - 8 pm

Highlighted Activity

09/21/2020 Bridger Foothills Fire Closure Order, September 21
Closure - 09/21/2020
Operations Chief Nickolay explains the plan for the dayImage options: [ Full Size ]

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.

 Due to a string of wind events, smoke from other fires in the western U.S. was pushed out of the Bozeman area. Air quality has improved greatly this week. The extended forecast for the rest of the weekend calls for temperatures in the fifties, with high wind events.  Chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday and Sunday is 30%. Forecast for the next 72 hours: Partially overcast, with a high near 55 degrees.

Large fuels will continue to smolder, and creeping fire behavior is expected in duff and lighter fuels. Isolated smokes may be visible in the interior.

For current fire size, containment, and suppression activities, please see the daily fire updates posted under the “News” tab above.

For updated evacuation and road closure information see the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page at or 

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
Date of OriginFriday September 04th, 2020 approx. 03:00 PM
LocationThree miles northeast of Bozeman, MT.
Incident CommanderBob Culbreth; Caleb Schreiber (T)
Incident DescriptionWildfire
Coordinates45.72 latitude, -110.974 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel27
Size8,224 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained83%
Estimated Containment DateWednesday September 30th, 2020 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved

Timber (Litter and Understory)

Short Grass (1 foot)

Brush (2 feet)

Mixed conifer stands at higher elevations have not burned in recorded history and consequently have heavy fuel loads.

Fine fuels are becoming receptive late morning with continued drying. Heavier fuels are retaining heat and are expected to continue to consume.

Significant Events

Minimal fire behavior, creeping and smoldering. Some smoke observed from stump holes and smoldering duff, occasional interior smokes.


Planned Actions

Crews continue to patrol and "mop-up" hot spots interior as appropriate to secure the fire perimeter, and complete suppression repair. The incident will continue to release resources as appropriate to "right size" the fire.

Projected Incident Activity

Precipitation is expected to occur in the area, with a chance of showers and snowfall on Saturday evening. Minimal fire spread is projected, crews will continue to mop up and finish suppression repair.


Gallatin County Sheriff's Office will be continuing facilitating repopulation of previously evacuated areas. Transfer of command to a Type 3 team occured Sunday 9/20 at 0600.

Land Ownership Breakdown: Private (Gallatin County): 6,799/ USFS 1,425.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Forecasted: A slight chance of rain and snow showers is forecast through Sunday morning. Wetting rain chances remain minimal. Conditions are expected to remain windy with gusts of 40+ mph on Saturday. The NWS has issued a red flag warning for 12pm to 9pm Saturday, Sept. 26th.