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Red Shale Fire Update (July 30, 2013)

Th Red Shale Fire burning in mixed fuels. In the right midground you can see the young lodgepole pine regeneration from the 1988 Gates Park Fire. In the stream bottoms and in pockets elsewhere, pockets of trees that escaped the Gates Park Fire can be seen. (Mike Munoz,USFS)
Summary: Notable changes today include changes to the trail closures.  Portions of the East Side Sun River Trail #109 have been closed, and some trails previously closed have been re-opened.  See below for specific information.

 
Fire Activity:  The Red Shale Fire was reported by the Beartop Lookout at 4:30 p.m. on July 18, as a small amount of white smoke rising from an area where lightning strikes had been observed the night before.

Fire activity is observed predominantly north of Red Shale Creek and west of the North Fork Sun River in Red Shale and Gates Creek in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The fire did cross the mouth of Ray Creek, where Type 2 Helicopter is actively making water drops. District fire managers flew over the area in the evening of July 28, and reported the fire size as 8631 acres. Active fire behavior continues within the 1988 Gates Park Fire area, in heavy downed and standing dead timber with pockets of young lodgepole pine stands that are regenerating from previous fires.  

Minimal fire activity was observed in the last 12 hours due to cooler and cloudy weather.  The weather pattern will remain much of the same today from yesterday; mix of clouds and sun with some isolated thunderstorms this afternoon into the evening.  Temperatures will slightly warm during midweek decreasing the chances for precipitation.  The moist Pacific weather system may not arrive until Thursday evening.

Management Actions:  Evaluation and mitigation of potential risks to the public, fire personnel, and resources remains as the top priority.  A long term management plan identifying activities to slow progress and reduce intensity of the fire was completed on July 24. This plan will be routinely reviewed by District Fire Managers to ensure management actions are adequately addressing concerns identified in the plan.

Structure protection has been completed at the Gates Park administrative site, the Gates Park pack bridge, Wrong Creek and Rock Creek Cabins. Fire personnel are stationed at Gates Park to monitor the fire along with Beartop Lookout resources. In addition there is one Type 2 helicopter and one Type 3 helicopter stationed at the Choteau airport to support the fire management activities. Heavy downfall, abundant hazardous snags and dense young lodgepole pine stands, along with remote location in the wilderness poses a challenge in ensuring safety zones and escape routes for fire personnel.  

Restrictions and Closures: Trail closures were changed on July 30, 2013.  Trail 109 from the junction of the Route Creek Pass Trail 108 south to the junction of Headquarters Creek Trail 165 has been closed for public safety. The Chinese Wall Trail 175 has been reopened to travel north to Spotted Bear Pass, but no camping is allowed along the trail north of Trail #131.  Rock Creek Trail 111 remains closed.  Route Creek Trail 108 is fully open, and the North Fork Sun River Trail 110 is open from the junction of Trail 108 north to Sun River Pass.  Open Fork Trail 116 is also now open, and 2.5 miles of the North Wall Trail 174 from Trail 116 south to Moonlight Peak Trail 132 has been re-opened. All forest visitors travelling in the backcountry are urged to use caution and be observant to changes in weather and fire behavior.  Visitors should contact the Fire Information number above before travelling to the area.  There are no campfire restrictions in effect at this time.

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