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Officials still not sure of source of fire, but say worst of it is behind them

by David Murray, Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune |

Montana firefighters are not certain what sparked the Bradley Creek Fire outside Norris, but are now cautiously optimistic that the worst of the blaze is behind them.

According to information from the U.S. Forest Service InciWeb, the fire was first reported at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Bradley Creek drainage just east of U.S. Highway 287 in Madison County.

Initial efforts to halt the Bradley Creek Fire were hampered by a late-afternoon wind shift Sunday, which pushed the fire to the west and south. Eighty-one firefighters were committed to fight the blaze, aided by large air-tankers conducting fire retardant drops to check the fire’s growth. Smoke conditions did force the closure of Highway 287 for brief periods, and firefighters worked through the night to gain tighter control of the blaze.

A slight chance of thunderstorms will return Wednesday.