Two wildfires in Madison County took off Sunday, one prompting an evacuation order for an area near Ennis and firefighting help from several counties.
Dave Sabo, a district ranger with the U.S. Forest Service, said nobody had been hurt and no structures were lost as of 8:45 p.m. Sunday but both fires grew significantly.
The lighting-caused Monument Fire detected on Aug. 6 went from about 2,000 acres to 6,000 acres, but it was in a remote area at the head of Ruby Creek, roughly 18 miles southwest of Cameron in the Gravelly Mountains.
Lightning sparked the Wigwam Fire near Ennis sometime Saturday and by Saturday night it was about 70 acres, Sabo said. By early Sunday evening it was about 2,000 acres.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office said mandatory evacuations were ordered for Haypress Lakes from Fall Trail and Haypress Lakes Trail up and including No Mans Trail, Rockchuck Trail, Wigwam Trail, Boiler Spring Trail, Bunks Trail, Shady Trail and all roads above that. The fire was moving in from the southwest to the northeast.
There was also an evacuation warning from the Y in the road southeast to the Shining Mt. Subdivision south of Ennis. Warnings mean people should be prepared to leave but a mandatory evacuation is not yet in effect.
The Johnny Ridge and Gravelly Range roads were closed through to Black Butte and additional closures were possible.
A Red Cross shelter was opened at the Ennis High School and horses could be taken to the Ennis Fairgrounds, authorities said.
Sabo said the fire “grew so rapidly,” volunteer firefighters from several counties, including Madison, Beaverhead, Gallatin, Park and Carbon, joined state and federal personnel Sunday.
“They really came out of the woodwork and said, “We’re going to help these guys,’” Sabo said.
There were 13 engines on that fire alone and two helicopters attacked it from the air.
The north end of the Monument Fire had reached into Clover Meadows. It was burning in whitebark pine and sub-alpine fir at an elevation of about 9.000 feet.
But Sabo said “that fire is in a pretty good spot,” meaning it was remote.
Firefighters were working to assess areas where lightning activity was high to determine if there were any new wildfires.
A public meeting on the fires was held early Sunday night Fire Station No. 3 in Ennis and Sabo said about 75 people attended.