UPDATE: JULY 20 AT 10:51 A.M. 

Crews are continuing to battle the fires in the Divide Complex, which is comprised of the Balsinger Fire and the Ellis Fire, located in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest (HLCNF).

A total of 209 personal are assigned to the fires, this includes three Type 2 handcrews, one Type 1 hotshot crew, 16 Type 6 engines, one Type 5 engine, two Type 4 engines, one Type 3 engine, three dozers, one skidgen unit and three water tenders.

Balsinger Fire

The Balsinger Fire is burning 1,675 acres seven miles west of Neilhart.

A release from HLCNF said crews will work on strengthening and mopping up the fire line on the Balsinger Fire. On the northern flank along the Divide Road, they will continue fuel reduction and structure preparation. 

Crews will use ignitions to reach their end goal if conditions allow. Structure assessments and preparation will carry on in the Belt Parkway area.

The fire is measured at an estimated 1,688 acres with zero-percent containment.

Ellis Fire

The Ellis Fire is located 2.5 miles southwest of the Smith River.

Crews are continuing moping up and strengthening of the fire line on the Ellis Fire. HLCNF said there may be some lighting of green islands within the perimeter. Two Type 2 helicopters and one Type 1 helicopter is on standby to drop water and provide other support efforts.

The fire is measured at an estimated 1,058 acres with 25% containment. 

The two fires are burning a total of about 2,746 acres.

Monsoonal moisture may continue to flow into the region through southwesterly winds Tuesday night through Wednesday. Rainfall may be restricted due to mostly dry conditions at lower levels Tuesday evening; however, persisting moist air advection may increase chances for rain Tuesday night through Wednesday. 

Thunderstorms with gusty and unpredictable winds may roll through the region Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday.

The following closures are currently in place: 

From the junction of North Pilgrim Creek trailhead #304 following Belt Creek East to the convergence of Belt Creek and Tillinghast Creek, south along Tillinghast Creek to the intersection with road 6511, along the Harley Park Connector trail to the intersection of Road #586, then moving West connecting to Trail 347, following trail 347 to where it meets Trail 342, then following Tenderfoot Creek west to Trail 343, following Trail 343 to Trail 341,then North along Trail 341 to the intersection of Road #268 and Road 839, following Road 839 north connecting with Trail #304.


HELENA, Mont. - A Type 3 Incident Management Team is battling the Divide Complex which includes the Balsinger, Ellis and Iron Mine fires burning in the Little Belt Mountains in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest.

The Balsinger Fire

The Balsinger Fire is burning 1,675 acres seven miles west of Neilhart, according to a release from the U.S. National Forest Service. A total of eight Type 5 engines and seven Type 6 engines are assigned to the fire. There are also one Type 1 hotshot crew, two two water tenders and one dozer.

The Balsinger Fire is lightning caused and zero-percent contained at this time.

Ellis Fire

The Ellis Fire is located 2.5 miles southwest of the Smith River and is burning an estimated 955 acres. There's a total of nine Type 6 Engines, five Type 2 handcrews, two dozers, one skidgin, and two water tenders assigned to the fire.

The U.S. Forest Service said a s. A pre-evacuation order was in effect for the Smith River corridor from Camp Baker in the south to Blacktail Creek to the north. 

According to the U.S. Forest Service, air resources are monitoring the Iron Mines Fire, and ground crews will be assigned as necessary.

The Ellis and Iron Mines fires are sharing air resources, two Type 1 helicopters and two Type 1 helicopters.

The following closures are in place:

From the junction of North Pilgrim Creek trailhead #304 following Belt Creek East to the convergence of Belt Creek and Tillinghast Creek, south along Tillinghast Creek to the intersection with road 6511, along the Harley Park Connector trail to the intersection of Road #586, then moving West connecting to Trail 347, following trail 347 to where it meets Trail 342, then following Tenderfoot Creek west to Trail 343, following Trail 343 to Trail 341,then North along Trail 341 to the intersection of Road #268 and Road 839, following Road 839 north connecting with Trail #304.

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