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Divide Complex-Ellis 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

Highlighted Activity

08/04/2021 Pre-evacuation Order Rescinded
According to Meagher County Sheriff Jon Lopp, the pre-evacuation order for the Smith River corridor from Camp Baker to the confluence with Blacktail Creek has been
Announcement - 08/04/2021
Map shows location and extent of Divide Complex - Balsinger and Ellis Fires for 7/26/2021Image options: [ Full Size ]

Notice: the incident management team has put the Ellis Fire in patrol status as of August 1, 2021.  Firefighters will continue to monitor this fire as necessary, but additional growth is unlikely.  Unless the status changes, this will be the last post for the Ellis Fire.

The Ellis Fire, which is being managed as part of the Divide Complex with the Balsinger Fire, started on July 8, 2021 on the White Sulphur Springs Ranger District of the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest. The cause is under investigation. The fire is located in the Dry Range - East Fork, about 2.5 miles southwest of Smith River.
The Southern Area Incident Management Gold Team assumed command of the fire on July 23, 2021 at 0600 under the leadership of Incident Commander Debbie Beard. The fire is currently 70 percent contained and 1,277 acres.


  • 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
CauseUnder Investigation
Date of OriginThursday July 08th, 2021 approx. 12:00 AM
Location20 miles NW of White Sulphur Springs
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.
Coordinates46.838 latitude, -111.272 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel227
Size1,277 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained80%
Estimated Containment DateFriday October 29th, 2021 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved

Fuels involved are primarily FM 2 (grass with timber litter) and FM 10 timber (heavy conifer with significant dead and down).

Significant Events


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.

Projected Incident Activity

Moderate fire behavior is expected over the course of the afternoon. Pockets of heat with visible smoke were present on the east side of Thunder Mountain and that activity is expected to increase over the course of the afternoon. Heat exists in the southeast corner as well that does have favorable slope alignment today.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Some rain yesterday afternoon and evening allowed for good RH recovery last night with clearing skies. Sunny skies this morning with light downslope flow along the slopes gave way to upslope flow this afternoon with increasing clouds over the higher elevations. A slight chance of thunderstorms will continue into the evening. Skies will clear again overnight. Ridgetop winds up to 20 mph will be from the north today and transition to east by Saturday.