The United States Forest Service, along with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office, has made a determination on what caused the Bridger Foothills Fire, which was started on September 4th, and to date has burned over 8,200 acres and destroyed 28 homes.

After completing their investigation, fire officials announced on Friday that they believe the fire was started as a result of a hold-over lightning strike. Investigators will continue to follow up on any additional leads they received prior to releasing today's final cause determination.

To come to their conclusion, investigators looked into a variety of different factors, including interviewing first account observers, conducting detailed field work, and analyzing weather data. A “hold-over” lightning strike means that the fire's actual ignition likely occurred during a storm late in August that produced extensive lightning over Bozeman and the Bridger Mountains. The fire came to life on September 4th after several days of warmer temperatures.

It’s very common for fires to appear several days to weeks after a lightning storm has passed through,

said District Ranger Corey Lewellen. Earlier on the same day, fire crews responded to another fire just north of the Bridger Foothills Fire that was also determined to be a hold-over produced from the same storm.

As of Friday night, the Bridger Foothills Fire is 72% contained. They are estimating full-containment of the fire around September 30th. Fire officials continue to keep their eyes on the weather as warmer temperatures move back into the fire zone. Saturday's forecast calls for sunny skies and highs around 83, and we could see temperatures up around 90 degrees by Monday.