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American Fork 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.

Image shows sunrise over the Woods Creek Fire, July 30, 2021Image options: [ Full Size ]

The lightning-caused American Fork Fire started on July 17, 2021 in the northeast Crazy Mountains, 24 miles southwest of Harlowtown. 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 picking up spot fires and also aiding in suppression efforts. Crews are also working on structure protection to the south of the fire.

Hot and dry conditions continue across the area with near red flag conditions. Active to extreme fire behavior is expected, with substantial growth possible.
Area closures, including trail closures, are in place. Please see the map for more details.


  • 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 OriginSaturday July 17th, 2021 approx. 06:30 AM
Location24 miles SW of Harlowton, MT
Incident CommanderSteve Parrish, ICT1
Incident Description24 Miles Southwest Of Harlowton, Montana
Coordinates46.165 latitude, -110.248 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel142
Size14,397 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained10%
Estimated Containment DateFriday October 15th, 2021 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved

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

Fuels involved are primarily FM 2 (grass with timber litter) and FM 10 timber (heavy conifer with significant dead and down). 1 hour fuels at 5% today. 1000 hour fuels at 7%. Live fuels at 115% ERC values above 97th percentile.

Significant Events

Minimal behavior. Backing, creeping, and smoldering.

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.


Planned Actions

The primary focus for tomorrow will continue to be structure protection for the Shields Creek Drainage area. Hold constructed line along eastern perimeter. Continue to use aviation resource to pick up spots and aid in structure protection on the western side of the fire. Long term planning with the CGF.

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.


A public meeting is scheduled to be held in Melville on 8/3.

Infrared flights have been UTFed for the past three nights due to weather conditions.

The western side of the fire received over 1" of rain while the eastern side received approximately 0.1".

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.

Recent Articles

Daily Fire Update 8/4/2021 News - 5 hrs. ago
Community Meeting at Melville August 3 Announcement - 23 hrs. ago
Community Meetings Postponed Announcement - 2 days ago