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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

Bozeman Ranger District
Phone: 406-522-2520
Hours: 8 am-4:30 pm M-F

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

Bridger Foothills Fire Update, 09/16/20

Bridger Foothills Fire Wildfire
News – 9/16/2020

Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 5

Joe Sampson, Incident Commander


Location: Custer Gallatin NF, 3 miles NE of Bozeman, MT

Start date: September 4, 2020

Size: 8,224 acres

Percent Contained: 77%

Cause: Lightning

Resources Assigned:
• Total personnel: 260
• Engines: 8
• Type 2 Hand crews: 6
• Helicopters: 2
• Water tenders: 1


The Bridger Foothills Fire started around 3 pm on September 4, 2020. Initial attack forces responded, but were unable to suppress the fire, given the extreme dry and windy conditions. By that night the fire had grown to about 400 acres. Local resources attempted extended attack on Saturday, but a frontal passage with strong winds pushed the fire to an estimated 7,000 acres. The fire has shown minimal fire behavior on the perimeter in recent days, with interior smokes still visible. Firefighters continue to patrol, mop-up hot spots and secure the fire edge. Resource advisors are evaluating the fire area and coordinating suppression repair.


There is a Temporary Flight Restriction in place over the fire area.

Wildfires are a NO DRONE ZONE. If you fly, we can't. Flying a drone near a wildfire can shut down all air operations.


Gallatin County
Montana DNRC
Custer Gallatin NF


Acreage remains at 8,224 acres. Containment remains at 77%. The south side of the fire, a large portion of the east and west sides, and the large spot east of the fire are contained.

Crews located, isolated, and put out hot-spots interior to the fire's edge on all flanks. Interior heat remains on the northern flank of the fire, and crews will continue to mop-up hot spots and grid the mostly unburned areas where previous spotting occurred. Crews re-positioned from the southern edge to the northern flank to assist with mop-up and gridding. Crews in the Beasley Creek area coordinated with landowners to monitor areas around structures and address any "flare-ups," removing residual heat. Fire personnel worked with the local Fire Department to assess structures outside the fire area to the north. The data collected will be used to document the fire risk for those structures in the event of future fires. Smoke from other fires on the west coast could continue to affect air operations. Resources no longer needed will demobilize, returning to home units or receiving orders for reassignment to other incidents.

Personnel will be utilizing an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to locate hot-spots along the fire perimeter on the northern flank. The use of UAS to assess fire activity has less risk, reducing ground-based firefighter exposure in steep, rugged, and rocky terrain. These operations are more cost effective than some traditional aerial operations. The end result is rapid assessment of current fire conditions through the utilization of sensors and cameras not readily available in traditional firefighting aircraft.


The fire experienced moderate relative humidity recovery overnight. Temperatures in the low to mid 70s are expected, with slightly higher relative humidity (18-22%) and winds similar to previous days. Large fuels will continue to smolder, and creeping fire behavior is expected in duff and lighter fuels. Drift smoke from other fires in the West is expected to remain in the greater Bozeman area. Expected fire behavior is low but potential for fire in the area is high, due to extremely dry fuels. The extended forecast calls for a 60% chance of rain over the upcoming weekend, with measurable precipitation expected (0.3 inch).


Bridger Canyon Road in its entirety is OPEN to the public. Travelers should SLOW DOWN and watch for fire traffic, as firefighting resources remain in the area.

The Forest has modified the area closure order for National Forest System lands in the Bridger Foothills Fire area. This closes the area, roads, and trails to all human entry within the Bridgers, west of Highway 86 and south of a line from the Brackett Creek intersection ("the Y") extending to the west through Ross Peak to the western Forest boundary. Popular trails like Middle Cottonwood, Bridger Foothills, Sypes Canyon, all Bridger Bowl trails to the ridge and all trails south of Brackett Creek and up and over Ross Peak remain closed. Trail users should refrain from attempting to run the ridge or loop the Bridger Foothills trail; many connector trails are still closed. Visit the Inciweb page, Closures tab, for a detailed description and map of the modified closure.

The Gallatin County Emergency Management Office encourages all residents to be prepared for future emergencies, by signing up to receive emergency notifications through the Community Notification System. Information can be found at

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