Smoke From Neighboring States Slows Montana Fires - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Smoke From Neighboring States Slows Montana Fires

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Crews get a handle on wildfires burning in Montana.

It may surprise you to know they are thanking smoke in the Valley for slowing the spread of several fires in the Treasure State.

Big fires burning next door in Washington and Oregon are sending smoke billowing east and Montanans have been seeing it all day.

Fire officials say smoke up high that covers the sun keeps temperatures down near the ground lower and doesn't let the land dry up so quickly. These both slow fires.

Friday, two helicopters and 25 people were out fighting the Fire Creek Fire. At its worst it reached eight acres on private and Forest Service land in Huson. No one's been hurt, and even though there is a home nearby, officials say they were never too worried about it catching fire.

"We were luckily able to get a crew up there quickly yesterday and had good support with the helicopter and we were able to get some folks immediately on it, which we felt pretty good about," said Chad Benson, a district ranger for the Lolo National Forest.

At last check, it was about 90% contained. Saturday they're hoping to be in mop up stage, meaning the fire is all but totally contained and a crew combs through the area looking for any hot spots. Thankfully, weather has been cooperative.

"We're getting a lot of influence from the Washington and Oregon area that's putting most of this in the air," said Benson.

North of this blaze, another 20 acre fire is roaring on tribal land in Perma, between Plains and Dixon. According to CSKT fire management dispatcher Jack Currie, 16 smokejumpers as well as aircraft have worked on it all day. Saturday, 20 more regular firefighters will join in to help. It's so remote, they've had to clear out spots for the pilots to land.

"There was a lot of talk about what fire season would be or can be, but anytime we get these prolonged time frames of extreme heat which we've had, I would say anybody betting on a low fire season would not be a great bet," said Benson.

Currie says the Perma fire is 0% contained.

Crews also are trying to contain flames near Darby where the Goat Lake fire is burning four acres in the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness.

Nineteen hot shots and a helicopter are working to contain the flames.

No structures are threatened by either of these fires.