HELENA — A wildfire popped up Saturday afternoon on Ward Ranch Road near York.
In light of such an early season wildfire, officials are urging fire caution as the weather warms up.
Officials estimate what they’re calling the Ward Ranch Road Fire was about 16 acres. Crews had the bulk of the fire out and were mopping up the blaze by Sunday, ensuring the fire’s perimeter was cold.
They are keeping a patrol on the fire to make sure it stays out. Multiple departments were on the scene including the York Volunteer Fire Department, Montana DNRC, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office, and fire personnel from the Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest.
Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest spokesperson Chiara Cipriano says that fires this early in the season are pretty uncommon.
“But also concerning to be seeing wildfires in March. You know this is not typically something we think about hearing in the news around here in March. And so, it also serves as a really important reminder to recreationists.”
Cipriano says that with the dry weather, it’s important to take steps to prevent fires, “take those extra precautions that you would normally take in the summer.”
Some of these precautions can be taking care to not shoot near dry vegetation when target shooting, carrying a fire extinguisher when using off-highway vehicles, securing your chains when towing, and putting out recreational fires so that they are cool to the touch.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.