Law enforcement seeking help regarding the Plant Creek Fire

MISSOULA - The cause of the Plant Creek Fire, which was reported on Monday, October 18, is under investigation. Forest Service Law Enforcement is asking for the public's help in identifying the driver of the pictured black and red Polaris side-by-side. The black and red side-by-side was driven in the Miller Creek area on the afternoon of Sunday, October 17, and the driver may have information regarding the cause of the Plant Creek Fire. The side-by-side was driven by a white, bald, middle-aged male accompanied by two children. One of the children may have been wearing a bright orange sweatshirt. Anyone with information regarding the driver of the side-by-side from October 17 should contact Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Nick Scholz at 406-329-1025.

"Plant Creek is a popular recreation area close to Missoula," stated Jen Hensiek, District Ranger. "While the area is open for safe and responsible target shooting, recently it has become littered with shooting targets, shooting debris, and illegal dumping. We are disappointed to learn that illegal behavior could have been the cause of this wildfire that has put Forest and private lands at-risk. We are asking for the public's help with information."

The cause of the Plant Creek Fire continues to be under investigation. Although an official cause has not yet been determined, exploding targets have not been ruled out of the investigation. Exploding targets of any kind are prohibited on all Lolo National Forest Lands. Exploding targets consist of two ingredients that when mixed, explode when shot by a high-velocity projectile. Research has shown that under the right conditions, exploding targets can cause wildfires.

Informational Resources on Target Shooting:

Target Shooting on National Forests:

Recreational Shooting: Shooting Safe on your Forest (video)

Plant Creek Fire Update: Yesterday, firefighters made good progress suppressing the Plant Creek Fire located nine miles southeast of Missoula, north of Miller Creek Road in the Plant Creek drainage. Eighty-five firefighters and two helicopters established an anchor point on the southern flank of the fire and built containment and hose lines on the east and west flanks. The fire is now 50 percent contained. Due to more accurate mapping, the fire size has been reduced to 33 acres. Some fire growth did occur on Tuesday as the fire burned actively on the western flank consuming brush, grass, and occasionally flaring in brush or trees.

Today, firefighters will continue to establish containment lines and secure existing lines around the perimeter by conducting mop-up, or extinguishing smoldering hot spots along the perimeter of the fire. Smoke may be visible from Missoula, Highway 93, parts of the Bitterroot Valley, and the Miller Creek area. Firefighters are expecting cool and wet conditions toward the end of this week which will aid suppression efforts.

Please drive with caution on the Miller Creek Road to give firefighters the space to safely address this wildfire. Continued information will be posted to the Lolo National Forest on Facebook or Twitter.

Plant Creek Fire Statistics:

Start Date: Oct. 18, 2021

Size: 33 acres (Please note: reduction in size is due to more accurate mapping)

Cause: Under investigation

Containment: 50%

Evacuations: None

Personnel: 85

Closures: Plant Creek Road is temporarily closed due to fire traffic.

Location: 9 miles southeast of Missoula, ¼ mile north of Miller Creek Road up the Plant Creek drainage.


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