Smoke from the American Fork fire seen from Shields River Road on Monday, August 2, 2021.

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Firefighters have contained 76% of the American Fork fire’s perimeter, officials announced on Wednesday.

Warmer and drier conditions this weekend could cause the wildfire in the northeast Crazy Mountains to smolder, creep and torch trees in some isolated areas, fire managers wrote. Still, crews have largely shifted their efforts to repairing the burn area.

While firefighters worked in the Crazies, Bozeman’s air quality improved, shifting from “unhealthy” at 2 p.m. Tuesday to “moderate” by Wednesday.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality extended an air quality alert to Beaverhead, Carbon, Gallatin, Madison and Park counties as smoke to the southwest wafted into the southern half of Montana.

“A weak disturbance may bring some scattered showers to southwest and central Montana Thursday, which could help alleviate smoke,” DEQ air quality specialists wrote in an update.

Warming and drying conditions over the weekend might alleviate the conditions even more, as winds could redirect more smoke to the south, according to officials.

Lightning sparked the American Fork fire in the northeast Crazy Mountains about 24 miles southwest of Harlowton on July 17.

In the months that followed, the blaze burned through 21,892 acres of grass, brush and timber on federal and private land in Park, Meagher and Sweet Grass counties.

Crews focused on confining the fire to Forest Service land and tried to keep it from spreading toward Wilsall. They protected structures and private property around the Shields River, Smith Creek and East Smith Creek drainages.

On Wednesday, no evacuation orders were in place due to the American Fork fire. All pre-evacuation notices had also been rescinded, according to fire managers.

An area closure that encompasses parts of the Custer Gallatin National Forest and Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest in the Crazy Mountains east of Wilsall was still in effect.

Crews on Wednesday removed snags from roads and campgrounds, felled trees and re-seeded areas affected by fire suppression, fire managers wrote.

Further north in the Big Belt Mountains, firefighters contained 90% of the 55,411 acre Woods Creek fire’s perimeter.

That fire was sparked by lightning around July 10. It spread through brush, timber and grass on private, state and federal land in Broadwater and Meagher counties.

Crews on the Woods Creek fire spent Wednesday patrolling for hot spots and improving control lines.

“Interior fuels may continue to burn until there is a season-ending event,” fire managers wrote.

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Helena Dore can be reached at hdore@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.

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