HELENA – Firefighters from multiple agencies contained several wildfires that started along the railroad tracks about 15 miles northwest of Helena Monday.

Multiple fires totaling 50-70 acres started around noon near Skelly Gulch off of Austin Road, continuing for two to three miles toward the town of Austin. The biggest fire was located about a quarter of a mile west of Skelly Gulch and two miles from the intersection of Birdseye and Austin roads, according to David Hamilton of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Crews had stopped forward progress on the fires as of 3 p.m. Monday.

“Everything’s contained, nobody was evacuated,” said Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Sgt. Brett Friede. “We held the roads for awhile basically keeping people out that don’t belong out there, but not stopping homeowners.”

The exact cause of the fire is under investigation and railroad officials were on the scene, he said. A train had not been officially confirmed as the cause of the fires, but there were multiple starts on either side of the tracks, he said.

The Birdseye Volunteer Fire Department, the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, the U.S. Forest Service, the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the Helena Fire Department all responded to the fires. Two DNRC helicopters were used. 

“We had a pretty good amount of resources up there, and they have a lot of mop up to do,” Hamilton said.

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