Black Sandy fire near Helena contained; likely caused by spontaneous combustion

INDEPENDENT RECORD

All evacuation orders and road closures have been lifted for the Black Sandy fire north of Helena, which may have been caused by spontaneous combustion. 

The fire started shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday in the area of 3525 Overland Road between Lake Helena and White Sandy Campground and was contained later that evening, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said. The latest available estimate put the size of the fire at eight acres.

Residents of about 30 homes in the immediate area were asked to evacuate, Dutton said, and several roads were temporarily closed to civilian traffic.

Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department Chief Marc Weniger said Friday that the local responding volunteer fire departments — Tri-Lakes, West Valley, East Valley, East Gate and York — were released Thursday night by U.S. Forest Service and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

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USFS and DNRC staffed overnight crews, and Weniger said those agencies were handling the mop-up Friday.

Dutton said spontaneous combustion is the suspected cause of the Black Sandy fire and the confirmed cause of a separate fire that started around 7:30 p.m. Thursday in a compost pile

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