Lightning strike sparks Tom Miner Basin fire

Jason Bacaj — Enterprise Staff Writer
Monday, July 5, 2021

A lightning strike caused a small fire in the Tom Miner Basin on Monday morning after a relatively calm weekend given the extreme fire danger, officials said.

Paradise Valley Fire Chief Mike Story said the fire grew to about a quarter of an acre. The U.S. Forest Service responded with a three-person crew that was aided by a crew of about five people from the nearby ranches.

“No need to panic,” Story said. “Paradise Valley (Fire) will be heading up there this afternoon to clean it up and put it to bed.”

Over the Fourth of July weekend there were only a couple small fireworks-caused fires, said Park County Rural Fire District #1 Chief Dann Babcox. One occurred near Miles Park and another near the rodeo area that was likely triggered by stray sparks from the Livingston Roundup Rodeo fireworks display. Both were quickly extinguished, Babcox said.

Park County Sheriff Brad Bichler said that a number of people obviously violated the county-wide ban on using fireworks but that he received “no calls about anything that was astronomical” over the weekend.

“I think because we had that good little shot of rain everybody thought it was safe, so there were a lot of fireworks going off,” Babcox said.

Babcox cautioned that sporadic rainfall won’t fix the historically dry conditions seen across Montana and the West, adding that “unless we get days and days and days of moisture we’re not going to come out of it unscathed.”

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