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Fire officials are investigating a 400-acre wildfire that started near Big Sky Thursday afternoon about a mile north from where forest officials were conducting a prescribed burn.

Marne Daley, a spokeswoman for the Custer Gallatin National Forest, said forest officials initially thought it was a spot fire from the prescribed burn. But because winds were blowing in the opposite direction, she said, forest officials have called in an investigator.

“It would appear that because of the prescribed burn activities, the time of those, with the wildfire that there was a connection,” Daley said. “But given the distance, it’s just a little bit odd.”

Daley said the fire was concerned 0% contained by Thursday evening.

The fire stretched about two miles and was on the east side of the Gallatin River near the Porcupine Trailhead, about a mile south of the junction of Highways 191 and 64.

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office said about 400 acres were involved. Some homes in the area were placed on pre-evacuation notice.

Fire engines from Big Sky Fire Department, Yellowstone Club Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service responded to the blaze. Montana Department of Natural Resources is helping with suppression resources and a helicopter. There were two other helicopters helping put the fire out, but Daley said she did not know which agency they were from.

By Thursday afternoon, the helicopters were dropping water from the Gallatin River to keep it from spreading further north with winds coming out of the canyon.

The Bozeman Ranger District was conducting a prescribed burn in the Porcupine Creek drainage near Big Sky to regenerate aspen stands and reduce fuels, according to a separate news release from the Forest Service. The release said fire personnel was coordinating with local agencies and private landowners before beginning the burn. It also said burning would only take place if conditions were optimal.

Daley said forest officials have stopped the prescribed burning, although people are still at that site.

“We do have folks down there monitoring that to make sure that it’s not actively burning or that it’s not growing,” Daley said.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at or at 406-582-2630.

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