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Spotted Eagle Fire Update 8-29-15 9:00pm

BIA Rte 1 Closed from browning to Heart Butte and from Heart Butte to Birch Creek.

The Southwest Area Incident Management Team 4 has assumed management of all current fires on the RMRD, and are working closely with local FS personnel, counties, and the Blackfeet Tribe. The Incident Command Post (ICP) is located in Augusta, MT, with a satellite ICP located in Browning, MT.

The fires in the Family Peak Complex are the result of lightning strikes from two strong thunderstorms the week of Aug. 9.

This USFS map detail shows the location of the Spotted Eagle Fire, in relation to Heart Butte, as of mid-day Saturday.

The Spotted Eagle Fire started near Spotted Eagle Mountain in the southern Badger-Two Medicine area but has spread several miles to the east and northeast onto the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and toward the town of Heart Butte. Aircraft are attempting to estimate the size and extent of fire spread. The Mt. Poia and Haywood Creek Fires have effectively been encompassed by the Spotted Eagle. The Spotted Eagle Fire exited the Forest boundary onto the Blackfeet Indian Reservation late on 8/28 near Mitten Lake, west of Heart Butte, and in the Swift Dam area. It is estimated to have spread north into the Badger Creek drainage and west into the South Badger drainage.

Activity & Management: The Spotted Eagle Fire exhibited active fire behavior, establishing a visible column beginning Friday (8/28) morning as observed on a reconnaissance flight. The fire became extremely active and exited the National Forest boundary, triggering evacuation of the town of Heart Butte and surrounding area by the Pondera County Sheriff. This fire remains widespread in the southern portion of the Badger-Two Medicine area, and is expected to be very active again today. County and tribal officials continue to carry out evacuations and fire management activity on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Four air tankers are dropping retardant in the vicinity of Heart Butte in support of efforts to protect the town and other structures in the area. Fifty fire engines and ten hotshot crews have been requested, however resources are spread thin due to unprecedented wildfire activity in the northwestern U. S. Fire managers are doing a reconnaissance flight and update on acreage and activity today. An area closure from roughly Benson Creek, Mount Pablo and Mettler Coulee extending southward to south of the Middle Fork of Birch Creek is in effect.

Note:Crews have conducted a burnout near the Swims Under/Big Badger area. There is no fire on east of BIA Route 1.

Weather: Low humidity and gusty winds will accompany the approaching dry cold front. Thunderstorms are possible with dry lightning.

Evacuation: The town of Heart Butte and surrounding Badger Creek areas north to Palookaville road have been ordered to evacuate as of August 28. An evacuation shelter has been set up by the Blackfeet Nation and American Red Cross Montana Chapter at 80 Heart Butte Road in Browning. Anyone who needs shelter is welcome, and all services are free. When possible, evacuees should bring personal items such as prescriptions, medications, personal documents, extra clothing and bedding, items for children and babies, and any other special items.

Closures:

There are numerous backcountry and trail closures in the Bob Marshall Complex and surrounding areas. This situation continues to evolve as fires grow. Anyone seeking information regarding entering or traveling through this area should contact the appropriate Ranger District for current information.

FAMILY PEAK COMPLEX CLOSURES (Badger-Two Medicine and northern Birch Creek areas):

NEW CLOSURES WILL BE IN PLACE BEGINNING 8/29; CALL FOR UPDATED INFORMATION

104 – South Badger – entire trail

121 – North Fork Birch Creek – from junction with Hungry Man (Tr.122) west to boundary with Flathead NF

144 – Goat Mountain – entire trail

145 – Elbow Creek – entire trail

146 – Crucifixion Creek – entire trail

147 – Muskrat Creek – entire trail

148 – Lonesome Creek – entire trail

 

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