A pair of lightning-caused wildfires near Missoula had firefighters on the move from Clearwater Junction to the Bearmouth rest area east of Missoula on Sunday afternoon.
The first, a 10-acre blaze called the Game Dreamer fire, started around 2 p.m. just north of Clearwater Junction and was clearly visible from Highway 83, burning in grass and timber.
Fire crews, including Department of Natural Resources ground crews and helicopter crew and nearby fire departments, made quick work of the blaze and had it contained by 5 p.m., said Paula Short, DNRC fire information officer.
Fast work was needed and appreciated, Short said, because the breezy afternoon turned into increasingly stronger winds as the day unfolded.
Meanwhile, as crews built a line around the Game Dreamer, reports rolled in around 6 p.m. with news of another fire burning east of Missoula between Beavertail Hill State Park and Bearmouth rest area in steep terrain a few hundred feet from an electronic station.
DNRC firefighters hustled to the Tendoy Gulch fire, which had burned about an acre in thick timber by the time it was spotted, Short said.
Because of the threat to the station, an airtanker was called in to drop fire retardant.
"The retardant drop was effective at knocking the fire back and ground crews will hike in and work through the night to contain it," Short said.
"All of the agencies invest heavily in initial attack and we believe the most effective way to fight fire is to put resources on them early and keep them small as possible," she said. "We had two great examples of that on Sunday."