Hawk, Snake Cause 40-Acre Forest Fire

The accidental arsonists paid the ultimate price for their mistake.

This bird and snake were found locked together Wednesday after apparently starting a wildfire. (Photo: Kyra Vanisko/Black Eagle Volunteer Fire Department)


Folks in Great Falls, Montana, have an unlikely duo to blame for a recent wildfire. Officials say a hawk and a snake are responsible for the blaze that impacted 40 acres last week. What exactly happened will never be known, but the evidence seems to point to a predator/prey interaction gone wrong.

The fire was reported Wednesday morning. Fire crews from surrounding cities, Malmstrom Air Force Base, and Montana’s Air National Guard responded, along with NorthWestern Energy and the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office. The Black Eagle Volunteer Fire Department ultimately determined that a bird of some kind, presumably a hawk, swooped down to attack a snake on a power line. During the ensuing struggle, the snake seems to have touched the wires, sending sparks showering down on the tinder-dry grass below. The two were later found still locked together.

Thankfully, no one was injured in the incident and no buildings were damaged. Several utility poles will need to be repaired/replaced, though.


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