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Woods Creek Fire

Unit Information

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

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Daily Fire Update 8/6/2021

Woods Creek Fire Wildfire
News – 8/6/2021

 Divide Complex

Daily Update

Friday, August 6, 2021

American Fork, Balsinger, Ellis and Woods Creek fires

Phone: 406-426-9612 (8 a.m. – 8 p.m.)




The Meagher County Sheriff's Office has issued an evacuation for the Woods Creek Fire in the following area: Gipsy Creek to Big Birch Creek. A road closure is in effect at mile marker 7 at Birch Creek Road.

There will be a public meeting tonight at 6 p.m. at the Football field in White Sulphur Springs.

The Divide Complex Incident Command Post now at the Jackson Ranch in White Sulphur Springs due to the opening of the White Sulphur Springs School. The Woods Creek Fire was very active yesterday. Air operations were busy on that fire and on the American Fork Fire and plan to help firefighters on the ground again today. The change in acreage is based on an infrared flight.

American Fork

Acreage: 17,537 Containment: 10% Start date: July 17, 2021 Cause: Lightning Personnel: 122
The American Fork Fire is burning in the central part of the Crazy Mountains, about 24 miles southwest of Harlowton, Montana. It’s burning on both the east and west side of the mountain range, approximately 12 miles northeast from Wilsall and approximately six miles west from Melville. A mandatory evacuation is still in effect for the Smith Creek area and portions of the Upper Shields River. Drier conditions led to active creeping, backing and single tree torching. The primary focus today is structure protection for the Shields Creek Drainage. We plan to hold constructed line along the eastern perimeter, continue to use air operations to pick up spots and help structure protection on the western side of the fire. Dugout Creek and Lodgepole Creek, east of Crandall Creek, are a concern today. Crews continue to remove burnable vegetation along Shields River and Bennet Creek roads to create fire breaks and construct fireline. They are evaluating any internal unburned pockets of vegetation that could threaten containment lines. Private landowners are helping firefighters by offering sources of water to fight the fire. The southern and northern edges show minimal heat. Crews will patrol and mop up there.

Balsinger and Ellis fires

Acreage: Balsinger 9,824 Ellis 1,227 Containment: 26% Start date: July 8, 2021 Cause: Balsinger -Lightning; Ellis – under investigation. Personnel: 331

The Balsinger Fire is burning about five miles west of Neihart, Montana. We increased fire containment on the eastern side. Dozers and hand crews worked to tie in firelines and roads on the western side. The fire did not move in the Thunder Mountain area, and hose lays and fireline construction continued in the Monarch area. Firefighters are focusing efforts on protecting the communities of Neihart and Monarch. Other areas protected include: Belt Park, Deer Creek Estates and the Highway 89 corridor. Today, crews will monitor, mop up, lay hose lines and hold, maintain and patrol firelines along Divide Road. The focus will be on keeping fire north of Divide Road. Areas retaining heat where winds may align with terrain and dry vegetation include the Divide Road and Tillinghast Creek area. Firefighters made good progress yesterday in the Monarch area doing some tree thinning to make a fuel break. Work continues to mop up and improve line to keep the fire from reaching Keegan Peak and Belt Park Butte. Night crews are experiencing more fire activity and will monitor and hold firelines. The focus for today will be point/structure protection, making sure livestock has been removed to safe areas, reassessing the fire perimeter to establish anchor points, and improving established anchor points.

The Ellis Fire, about 2.5 miles southwest of Smith River, Montana, continues to show limited fire activity. This fire is in patrol status with daily monitoring by aircraft.

Woods Creek Fire

Acreage: 20,671 Containment: 6% Start date: July 10, 2021 Cause: Lightning Personnel: 248

The Woods Creek Fire continues to burn in inaccessible terrain in the Big Belt Mountains, about 16 miles northeast of Townsend, Montana. This fire was active yesterday with running, flanking and single tree torching. Firefighters are constructing and securing firelines, installing hose lays in the Duck Creek and Baldy Creek areas and tying in lines near private property. Sprinklers are in place at Confederate Gulch, where additional hose lays and structure prep have been the focus. On the southeastern end of the fire, hose lays are helping mop up efforts. Hose lays are in place for ongoing structure protection in the Thompson Guard Station and mine area. Fire will likely be active today along the eastern edge in the Atlantic Creek, Boulder Creek, Duck Creek and Gipsy Creek areas. The fire grew in those areas overnight due to the 40-50 mph wind gusts in advance of a storm front. As the fire grew to the east, crews did some tactical firing to check the spread as it came up out of those drainages.  Confederate Gulch and Duck Creek remain focus areas for structure protection and line construction. Night crews will monitor and control fire spread, and provide structure protection, in coordination with local fire departments. Expect moderate to active fire behavior with surface fire and possible torching. A mandatory evacuation order issued by the Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office remains in place for the Woods Creek Fire, covering everything east of Highway 284 between Gravely Lane on the north and Dry Gulch Road on the south. Ray Creek is on high alert. Highway 284 remains open. A mandatory evacuation in effect for residences along Birch Creek Road and Gipsy Creek to Big Birch Creek.

Evacuation Notices

American Fork Fire

A pre-evacuation order remains in place for residences in the Shields River Road area.

An evacuation order for Smith Creek subdivision was issued by the Meagher County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday, 7/31.

Balsinger Fire

An evacuation order for Belt Park, issued by the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, remains in place.

A pre-evacuation order was issued for the area from the Belt Creek Ranger Station to Monarch and from west of Monarch to the confluence of Pilgrim Creek and Belt Creek.

Woods Creek Fie

The Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order in connection with the Woods Creek Fire.

There is a mandatory evacuation in effect for residences along Birch Creek Road. The Meagher County Sheriff's Office has also issued an evacuation for following area: Gipsy Creek to Big Birch Creek. A road closure is in effect at mile marker 7 at Birch Creek Road.


Scattered showers and thunderstorms continue through today with approximate rainfall one tenth to a quarter inch expected. Haze and cloudy conditions may hamper air operations in the morning. Clouds will clear out in the afternoon, increasing fire activity. Saturday is expected to be dry, with potential for active fire behavior. Strong 30 mph winds will likely come from the west Saturday, with gusts up to 50 mph.

Much unburned fuel remains between the active edges of the fire and some primary or contingency lines. Strong west winds are expected over the weekend. Saturday will be dry with isolated thunderstorms, with more chances for wetting rain Sunday afternoon/evening.


Temporary flight restrictions (TFR) remain in place for the American Fork Fire , the Balsinger Fire and the Woods Creek Fire.

The Belt Creek-White Sulphur Springs Ranger District, Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest expanded the closure area for the Balsinger Fire on July 29.

The closure order for the part of the American Fork fire  on the Custer-Gallatin National Forests was updated on July 29 (map).

The Big Elk Creek Trail (#640) on the part of the American Fork fire  on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest remains in place. This also includes the Big Elk Creek Trailhead.

The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest issued an area closure for the Woods Creek Fire on July 26, 2021. An additional closure was issued for the Woods Creek Fire August 4, 2021.


Help prevent additional fire starts by following all campfire restrictions and fire-related closures.

Most of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest is in stage 2 fire restrictions.

Stage 1 fire restrictions remain in place for the Custer Gallatin National Forest. The Custer Gallatin has also restricted campfires in all locations.

Visit for statewide fire restriction information.

Visit the website for more information on air quality near you.

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