Firefighters from Jefferson City, Clancy and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation responded to two fires in as many days this week—a wildfire that burned about 2 acres of forested land along Tizer Lake Road on June 30, and a small grass fire along Interstate 15 on July 1. Both fires are believed to be human-caused and were extinguished by July 1.
Jefferson City Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bud Siderits said in an email on Friday that the department was dispatched to a report of smoke east of Jefferson City at 2:22 p.m. on June 30.
"As I was leaving my home near Corbin I could see the growing white plume of smoke coming from the forest," he wrote.
The fire was burning alongside Tizer Lake Road about 5 miles east of the interstate, moving uphill to the north with about 2-foot-high flames, and had burned about 1 acre of land when firefighters arrived, Siderits wrote. Clancy and state firefighters arrived with additional personnel and equipment, including two helicopters that doused the fire with water.
Siderits wrote that the fire was contained at about 2 acres and largely extinguished by that evening, and that Jefferson City and Clancy firefighters cleared the scene that day. DNRC firefighters remained on scene overnight.
While state firefighters ensured that the Tizer fire was "dead out" on July 1, Siderits wrote, Jefferson City firefighters responded around 2 p.m. to a small grass fire near mile marker 189 on northbound I-15. That fire was also extinguished.
Jefferson County Fire Warden and Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Doug Dodge said on Friday that both fires were likely human-caused. The roadside grass fire was likely ignited by sparks from trailer tow chains dragging on the road. The exact cause of the Tizer fire is still under investigation, he said.
"I do know it's human-caused, but that's as far as I can go with it," he said.
In previous interviews, Dodge and Jefferson County Commissioner Cory Kirsch, who chiefs the Bull Mountain Rural Fire Department, predicted a fire season ripe for easy ignition and large, destructive blazes. Dodge encouraged people to be conscious of how their actions could spark a fire.
"It's being aware of your activities and the consequences they could possibly have. Anything can spark a wildfire and will, especially with conditions the way they are now," he said. "[Be] aware of the small actions you can take that would reduce the chances of sparking a wildfire. Is the area around your campfire clear of flammable materials? Do you have a way to put a fire out? [Take] care of your equipment so it's not prone to accidental ignitions. When you see something, don't be afraid to call it in."