The Plant Creek Fire burning in the Miller Creek drainage may have been started by individuals who were using the popular sport shooting area earlier this week.

KGVO spoke with Jennifer Hensiek, District Ranger for the Missoula Ranger District with the U.S. Forest Service about the fire.

“We first heard about this fire on October 18,” said Hensiek. Not yesterday, but the day before in the late afternoon, and we had a report that there was smoke up in the Miller Creek drainage and when we went to check it out, we discovered it was within the Plant Creek drainage itself. When they found it, it was probably about an acre or so since the fire was discovered. We've had a significant amount of resources show up on the fire.”

Hensiek described how the fire grew in the past few days.

“The conditions we're having for this point in October are pretty dry,” she said. “It had a little bit of wind on it and the wind pushed it to about 12 to 15 acres the night of the 18th. Then it just continued to burn through the night to about 30 acres at this point is my understanding.”

Hensiek said with the fire season over, getting personnel and equipment on the fire took extra time.

“As you can imagine at this time of the year, we don't have a large group of folks and resources available at the ready in October, so we actually had to spend quite a bit of time gathering resources from our neighboring units and our other partners in town, including the Missoula Rural Fire department and the City of Missoula also helped support us and the State of Montana DNRC (Department of Natural Resources and Conservation). So it was a group effort when they arrived on the fire,” she said.

Hensiek said the Forest Service received an anonymous tip, including a photo of a vehicle that was in the area at about the time the fire started.

“This is a popular area for recreational shooting and we had a report and an anonymous photo submitted that that fire might have been started by some target shooting that was occurring up there, and that's when we had that photo submitted,” she said. “That's when we decided to ask the public to see if anybody had seen anything, and if they could help us identify who it was and how it happened.”

If you recognize this vehicle in the photo, you are asked to contact the U.S. Forest Service law enforcement at 406-329-1025.

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