milligan canyon fire

This photo shows charred ground from the fire that burned near Milligan Canyon on Wednesday. In the background is a smoke plume from the McClusky fire, which was estimated at 974 acres Wednesday. 

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Fire season ramped up in the Gallatin Valley on Wednesday.

A bunch of smoke showed up, too, but it wasn't from any of our local fires.

The McClusky fire, which has been burning since mid-August, picked up steam and grew to 974 acres this week. The blaze is in the mountains north of the interstate between Whitehall and Butte, near Delmoe Lake.

Incident managers estimate the fire is 51% contained, meaning there are fire breaks around about half of its perimeter.

There are about 85 people there, but conditions are too dangerous for firefighters to attack it directly, fire spokeswoman Jeannette Dreadfulwater told the Chronicle on Wednesday.

"There's snags all over the place. There's standing snags, snags that have fallen on the ground," Dreadfulwater said. 

The Montana Standard has more coverage of that blaze here

A light haze was still hanging over Bozeman Thursday morning. Air quality was listed at moderate on the Montana Department of Environmental Quality's air monitoring website. The site indicates that air quality never deteriorated far beyond that on Wednesday, even as the smoke thickened. 

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Michael Wright can be reached at or at 406-582-2638. Follow him on Twitter @mj_wright1.