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Fire Update- Aug 30, 2012 – Gov. Declares State of Emergency

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has declared a State of Emergency in Montana. The declaration allows him to authorize the use of state resources and the Montana National Guard to protect life, health and property from more than a dozen wildfires burning statewide. Here is the latest update on the fires in the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness areas, and on the Helena, Lewis & Clark and Flathead National Forests:

Elbow Pass Complex   Spotted Bear Ranger District, Lewis and Clark National Forest.  20,227 acres. High winds prevented aerial reconnaissance yesterday.  The lookouts reported seeing more fire activity with small group tree torching in the So. Fork Sun and in the Dry Fork Blackfoot.   Firefighters continue to monitor fire behavior in the Basin and Danaher cabin areas. 

 Fire Update:  Winds speeds are expected to be much lower than Wednesday however low humidities and warm temperatures combine to create critical fire conditions.  The Wildland Fire Module are packing into the Ellis Creek area to improve the sprinkler system to reinforce the handline between the fuels break in the event of a run up the So. Fork.  Fuels samples are being collected for modeling fire behavior.  Fire managers intend to fly the fire to better map recent activity and fuels conditions within the perimeter. A helicopter mission to replace the radio batteries at the Scapegoat and Sugarloaf repeater sites needed for fire communications is also planned.  Safety during all operations is our number one priority.   Patrol and Prairie Reef lookouts are staffed today. 

Wedge Creek Fire Seeley Lake Ranger District, Lolo National Forest, 1,247 acres.  This fire is burning in steep terrain, heavy timber and around rock outcroppings in a remote un-roaded area about two miles south of the Scapegoat Wilderness boundary. The fire is producing a smoke column visible from highway 200. The fire is burning more actively in the Hayden Creek area. The weather for today is forecasted to be sunny, warm and dry with a high near 78. This afternoon south winds 6 to 11 mph becoming light and variable in the evening are expected and could gust as high as 20 mph. Winds continue to push the fire to the north east into the previously burned Conger Fire area that occurred in 2007 which has very sparse vegetation and will not result in any significant spread if the fire gets established in that area. The humidity are expected to drop into the low teens. No water or retardant drops were used yesterday. Due to heavy fuel loadings with intermittent bug-killed trees, steep slopes and inaccessible terrain it is unsafe to have crews on the ground. At this time, actions will continue to engage the fire in a way that will not place firefighters in danger. No private structures or property are currently threatened by the fire.

 Today’s Plan: Today’s air quality is expected to be clearer allowing the IC a better look at the fire while doing the reconnaissance flight observing the fire. A GPS perimeter data was not collected yesterday.  Actions will continue to engage the fire in a way that will not place firefighters in danger and utilize aircraft to observe and engage the fire as necessary. The Incident Commander is discussing options for area closures with District Recreation and Resource Advisors. No additional Trail Closures are expected and will most likely be created around the fire perimeter. 

 East Fork Fire   Lincoln Ranger District, Helena National Forest, 40 acres.  Gusty, southwest winds did reach the East Fork fire Wednesday afternoon, which caused it to spread further eastward. There was some small group tree torching this afternoon, but it is still well within the Scapegoat Wilderness boundary and not threatening any structures at this time.  The fire is burning in contiguous sub-alpine fir and dense, dead timber stands. The strategy remains to safely manage this fire for suppression within the Wilderness boundary, primarily containing the southern flank and preventing further spread to the south.

 Gusty, southwest winds did reach the East Fork fire Wednesday afternoon, which caused it to spread further eastward. There was some small group tree torching this afternoon, but it is still well within the Scapegoat Wilderness boundary and not threatening any structures at this time. 

Stonewall Fire  Lincoln Ranger District, Helena National Forest, 12 acres. The Stonewall Fire did not experience any additional movement today. Crews continue working to contain the fire; it remains at 50% contained this evening. Firefighters will continue to dig fireline, mop up, grid for spots and do saw work in and along the fire perimeter. 

Dart Creek  Spotted Bear Ranger District, Flathead National Forest, 10 acres.   New fire start located in the Big Salmon Drainage.  28 firefighters will be working on the fire today installing water pumps and hose lays.  They expect to make good progress in fire suppression efforts.   A helicopter is assisting with water drops.   

 Fools Hen Spotted Bear Ranger District, Flathead National Forest 1/2 acre.  Started Tuesday (8/28); burning in snags and downed logs in the old Monture fire (2000) scar. Firefighters expect to control   this fire by the end of today.  Firefighters expect to have it controlled today. 

 Basin Fire, Spotted Bear Ranger District, Flathead National Forest  0.1 acres.  Started Tuesday (8/28), mop up is complete and the was declared out yesterday at 6 p.m. 

 Prisoner Lake Fire   Spotted Bear Ranger District, Flathead National Forest -. Last update was 8-16-12, no further updates until conditions and/or fire behavior significantly changes.    

Falls Point Fire   Seeley Lake Ranger District, Lolo National Forest, 203 Acres –As of August 16th the Falls Point Fire has been added to the Elbow Pass Complex. Elbow Pass

Meadow Creek Fire   8/23/12 was the final update for this fire;  no further updates unless fire conditions change.

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