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North Hills Fire out, firefighters keep close watch

By Scott Zoltan, KECI Reporter, szoltan@keci.com
Published On: Aug 31 2013 02:02:31 PM MDT
Northhills fire
MISSOULA, Mont., -

Missoula Fire Department officials report that the North Hills wild land fire west of North Duncan Drive is 100 percent contained, and crews remain on scene doing mop-up work. Authorities say the bulk of the roughly 80 acres burned were on City-owned open space land.

Fire Investigator Gordy Hughes says the fire was started by a lightning strike on a Northwestern Energy power line. The strike appears to have struck a part of the line near the top of the pole, which caught fire and dropped hot embers grass at the bottom.

No injuries were reported and no structures were damaged, though fire officials say the blaze was an extreme threat to about a dozen homes.

Three helicopters dumped water on the fire, and three engine companies, a water tender and the Missoula Fire Department’s Battalion Chief responded to the initial call. Smoke was visible from downtown Missoula Friday night.