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Divide Complex-Balsinger Fire

Unit Information

Helena - Lewis and Clark National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
2880 Skyway Drive
Helena, MT 59602

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Incident Contact

Fire Information
Phone: 406-426-9612
Hours: M-F 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Highlighted Activity

08/04/2021 Community Meeting at Monarch Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Join us for a Community Meeting tonight at 7pm at the Monarch Fire Station to discuss fire activity and plans for fire suppression on the #BalsingerFire.  Hope to see you
Announcement - 08/04/2021
Map shows location and extent of Divide ComplexImage options: [ Full Size ]

Cascade County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order for residents of Belt Park due to Balsinger Fire activity northwest of Neihart.  

The lightning-caused Balsinger Fire, burning 7 miles west of Neihart, started on July 8, 2021 and is being managed as part of the Divide Complex with the Ellis Fire. It is one of several wildfires burning on the White Sulphur Springs Ranger District of the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest.

The Southern Area Incident Management Gold Team, led by Incident Commander Debbie Beard, assumed command of the fire on July 23, 2021. Multiple resources are responding to the fire. Firefighters continue suppression and firing operations towards the 2017 Blacktail Fire footprint, holding the fireline along the east. Aerial resources are supporting boots on the ground. 

Hot and dry conditions continue across the area with near red flag conditions. Active to extreme fire behavior is expected, with substantial growth possible.


  • Do not fly drones over the fire. If you fly, we can't.
  • Please respect road closure. Traffic on closed roads creates safety hazards for firefighters and emergency vehicles.
  • Firefighting resources are extremely limited. It is critically important that we all do our part to prevent additional fire starts by following all campfire restrictions and fire-related closures.
  • The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest and the Custer Gallatin National Forest are under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, which includes the use of charcoal grills. The Custer Gallatin also has restricted campfires in all locations. 

Visit for statewide fire restrictions information.

Please call 911 to report a wildfire.

Follow up on Facebook @HLCNF for the latest updates.

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
Date of OriginThursday July 08th, 2021 approx. 12:00 AM
Location~7 miles west of Neihart
Incident CommanderSteve Parrish, ICT1
Incident DescriptionThe Balsinger And Ellis Fires Are Being Managed As The Divide Complex. Safety Of Fire Personnel And Protection Of Human Life Is The Priority.
Coordinates46.993 latitude, -110.933 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel342
Size9,788 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained26%
Estimated Containment DateFriday October 29th, 2021 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved

Short Grass (1 foot)Timber (Litter and Understory)

Fine fuel moistures will dry today once the cloud cover and moisture from yesterday's rain event moves out of the area, heavy and live fuels are still at critical levels.

Significant Events

Minimal behavior.




With yesterday's precipitation fire behavior will be minimal today. In the morning hours very little fire activity is expected. As fine fuels dry during the day fire behavior will increase but is not expected to be more than minimal.


Planned Actions

Point/Structure Protection, make sure livestock has been removed to a secure/safe area. Reassess the fire perimeter to establish new anchor points. Continue to work from and improve established anchor points. Continue preparation work on Divide Road. Establish power and internet access at the Jackson Ranch ICP and complete construction of infrastructure necessary for ICP operations. Begin transition of operations to new ICP.

Projected Incident Activity

12 hours: Minimal fire behavior is expected throughout the day, smoldering and creeping fire.

24 hours: With the return to drier conditions fire behavior will increase, expect moderate fire behavior with surface fire; flanking, backing, and possible torching.


IR flights were UTFd due to weather the last 3 nights.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Fog and low clouds slowly lifted through the morning. Daytime heating will drop the RH levels to 25 to 30% this afternoon as temperatures increase. Lingering moisture may allow for isolated showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Expect warmer, drier conditions on Wednesday. Most of the precipitation from 8/2 fell on the east side with over 1" of rain. On the west side had between 0.1" and 0.2" of rain.