Falling Star Fire now 80 percent contained

Monday, August 3, 2020
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(SCN photo by Marlo Pronovost) The Falling Star Fire started early Sunday afternoon.

The Falling Star Fire in the Park City area is now 80 percent contained.

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) Fire Command made the announcement through Stillwater County Disaster Emergency Services moments ago.

Information is still being gathered, but somewhere between 1,200 and 2,000 acres were burned, which had been threatening 300 homes in Stillwater and Yellowstone counties.

The fire has also been determined to be “human caused,” having started in Yellowstone County and spread to Stillwater, according to DNRC Fire Command via Stillwater County Disaster Emergency Services. An investigation is underway.

Approximately 300 homes in Stillwater and Yellowstone counties were threatened by the fire, with some early reports of some having already sustaining damage.

That was the same number of evacuation calls that were sent out Sunday through the reverse 911 emergency notification system, Stillwater County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Carol Arkell.

Fire crews worked through the night to get the blaze within containment lines — concentrating on structures. Crews were able to keep it from jumping Valley Creek Road, as was reported on Sunday.

A new rotation of crews hit the fire today to mop up hot spots ahead of incoming thunderstorms and winds that were expected to reach the area later tonight.

Emergency crews are allowing residential traffic only on Benedict Gulch Road and Valley Creek Road and are asking that residents keep that travel limited, as fire equipment will be on those roads today.

The public can expect to see visible smoke and flames today. More than 100 crews from multiple agencies on scene.

The blaze was reported around 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, and despite being hit hard early with ground and air attacks, quickly grew due to the hot, dry conditions.

The fire was also threatening “main residential power distribution lines, wooden bridges on Valley Creek Road which is a major agricultural transportation route, as well as private agricultural water systems and cellular phone towers in the area,” according to a press release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued late Sunday night.

 

FEDERAL MONEY ALREADY APPROVED

FEMA has authorized federal funds to help with the cost of fighting the blaze. The request was made Sunday night by DNRC and was granted on the basis that the fire “threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster,” according to the FEMA press release.

The financial help will come in the form of a Federal Fire Management Assistant Grant (FMAG), which are provided through President Trump’s Disaster Relief Fund to help fight fires that are threatening to cause major damage. Also available under the grant funding is the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which provides money for post-fire mitigation of wildfire and other hazards, such as flooding or erosion that often occurs after a fire, according to the press release.