UPDATE: 7 New Wildfires in Western Montana
LINCOLN — A small wildfire is burning west of Lincoln near the intersection of Highway 200 and Highway 141. The Arrastra Fire was reported just before 3pm Tuesday, and it was initially estimated at 15 acres. Eight aircraft, four engines and one initial attack crew have been sent in.
HELMVILLE -- A wildfire of undetermined origin is burning 12 miles southwest of Helmville in Powell County. 24 firefighters have been sent in to deal with the Murray Fire, which is estimated at 55 acres. The fire was reported at 6:00 am on September 5th and the cause is under investigation. There are no evacuations in effect, and roads in the fire area are open to local traffic only for firefighter and public safety. Firefighters are working to keep fire growth to a minimum using aircraft to slow the fires forward progress while ground crews work to establish control lines.
LIBBY -- 153 Firefighters are battling a group of four wildfires in the Kootenai National Forest, which have been dubbed the Bull Gin Complex.
The Government Fire is 125 acres, and 2 miles northeast of Noxon. The fire is high on a ridge, and burning understory has been rolling downhill igniting fuels below. Helicopters are dropping water on the NE corner, trying to keep the fire out of Miller Gulch. On the ground, crews continue construction of a shaded fuel break along road 150 to the Government Creek crossing. The Government Fire is highly visible from highway 200.
Two miles northeast of Heron, the 160 acre Billiard Fire and the 280 acre North Star Fire are only about 100 acres apart, and expected to merge. Both fires are highly visible from highway 56 and highway 200. The fires are backing down the slopes of Fatman Road with uphill runs. This will continue due to continuous fuel loading. The head of the fire has reached the rock scree. Crews continue to improve access for fire suppression efforts on the west flank. Structure protection is in place where accessible.
The Isabella Lake Fire is 125 acres, and is in rough inaccessible terrain in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.
MISSOULA -- The Boulder Lake Fire is now 25 acres; burning less than a mile east of Boulder Lake in the Rattlesnake Wilderness. The fire is smoldering and creeping with occasional wind-driven runs and group/single tree torching. Firefighters are on-scene assessing the situation and scouting for possible containment options outside of the wilderness to the southeast of the fire. Helicopters may be used periodically to limit fire spread.
The Boulder Lake Fire is surrounded to the east and southeast by the Mineral Primm Fire (2003) and to the north by the Liberty Fire (2017) burned areas.
Due to current and predicted fire behavior, the Gold Creek Cabin (Forest Service structure) is closed for public use. Crews are clearing vegetation away from cabin and applying aluminized structure wrap, or cabin wrap, to the exterior of the cabin to protect it from potential radiant heat and embers.
HAMILTON --The lightning-caused Mill Lake Fire is located 12 miles west of Corvallis up Mill Canyon has grown to 450 acres. Most of the growth so far has been to the north and south from the main fire area. There was little to no growth further down canyon, from west to east (towards Corvallis). The fire is burning into heavy timber on the north side of Mill Canyon. Multiple helicopters have been conducting water bucket drops throughout the day and evening which have been effective at checking and slowing the fire spread.
Due to the difficult terrain and no landing locations for a helicopter, the fire is not currently staffed. The steep and rugged terrain combined with the presence of snag trees, limits the ability to safely place firefighters directly on the fire at this time.
MARION -- The lightning-caused Lemonade Fire has grown to 619 acres on the Flathead National Forest, 21 miles west of Kalispell. Incident command reports that a heavy equipment task force and hand crews continue to make progress constructing firelines. Although firefighters are working to limit the fire footprint, they conducted a small five-acre strategic firing operation yesterday to reduce fuels and strengthen and secure that line. The closest values at risk are to the south and southeast; therefore, there is an emphasis on that corner. Currently, there are no evacuations; however, one property is under pre-evacuation notice.
By the end of today, fire managers plan to have a complete fireline in for Division Alpha, which runs from the southeast corner to the current northern point of the fire. Firefighters will work to strengthen it in the coming days. Some spotting occurred on the north point of the fire, but crews are gridding it and have been able to pick these spots up and contain them.
Heavy equipment operators are putting in clipper lines on the southwestern half of the fire perimeter. From the mid-point of the south side to the southeast corner, firefighters are utilizing hoses and water to mop up the fire’s edge.
Helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft continue to support firefighters with water drops and reconnaissance flights.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK -- The Quartz Fire showed limited growth and burning of previously unburned fuel on Tuesday, along the southwest edge of the fire, high above Quartz Lake. Isolated single and group tree torching was the main activity, as the fire continues to consume dead and down heavy fuels. The Quartz Fire is estimated to be 1720 acres as of Tuesday evening. A crew will continue to be staged at the Quartz Lake Cabin reinforcing structure protection and patrolling the Quartz Fire throughout the week.
The North Camas Fire, detected in the upper Camas Creek drainage high on the north ridge of Heaven’s Peak on Sunday evening, continues to put up intermittent smoke. The fire has been visible from The Loop area of Going-to-the-Sun Road and an information board has been placed in that location. The North Camas Fire is burning in very steep, inaccessible terrain and is estimated at 8 acres. The location of the fire at high elevation with sparse fuels is expected to limit the potential for fire spread. Glacier National Park fire staff are closely monitoring the North Camas Fire, which is not currently considered a threat to any structures, park resources, or the public.
The Flat Mineral Fire, located in the Flattop Mountain area above Mineral Creek in Glacier National Park showed itself overnight, with one isolated area of heat. It remains at .1 acre. The Swiftcurrent Lookout will continue monitoring the fire, and a plan is in place to protect park resources if this fire becomes active again.
BIGFORK -- The Margaret Fire is on the ridge north of Margaret Lake, 13 miles east of Big Fork in the Flathead National Forest. As of Tuesday evening, the fire is estimated at 472 acres, and moving east/northeast along the ridgetop, and backing down the slope on the south side. The fire has burned down to Forest Service (FS) Road 895E in multiple locations. The smoke column may be visible at times from the Flathead Valley and from the Hungry Horse Reservoir.
BOB MARSHALL WILDERNESS -- The Ursus Fire An IR flight Tuesday afternoon estimated the fire at 1,824 acres. The fire is spreading to the east; it has crossed the Continental Divide near Observation Pass and a few spot fires have been observed on Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. The Ursus Fire has reached the 2012 Elbow Pass burn scar, which should act as a buffer to slow the spread of the fire in that direction.
Three other fires have been burning in the Bob since early August. The largest is the 1433-acre Cannon Fire, which is located 15 miles northeast of Condon. The fire is burning on the south facing side of the slope and has spotted over the ridge into the sub drainage that separates Cannon and Gorge Creeks.The fire is most active along the western flank near the bowls below Swan Mountain. There is a significant fire history in the surrounding area that will affect fire spread.
In addition to the Cannon Fire, the Highrock Fire is burning on the south facing slope near the top of the ridge that divides Highrock Creek from Little Salmon Creek. The small fire has been quiet.
Nearby, the Dean Creek Fire, 30 miles east of Swan Lake, is listed at 483 acres Wednesday morning, adding just 9 acres over the past 24 hours. The fire is most active on its southwest corner.Two firefighters are on scene to monitor the fire, and have wrapped and set up a sprinkler system at the Pentagon Cabin.
MONARCH -- The Deep Creek Fire, in the northeast corner of the Little Belt Mountains, has been downsized from 75 acres to 37 acres, and is 70% contained. Fire personnel were able to use aerial resources on the fire to help reduce fire growth. There are currently 62 personnel assigned to the incident which includes 1 helicopter, 4 engines, and 1 hand-crew.
SULA -- The Trail Ridge Fire is currently burning on 3028- acres along the border of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Bitterroot National Forests. Yesterday the Trail Ridge Fire burned actively to the southwest due to the prevailing winds into the head of Prairie Creek. The fire growth was observed on all sides of the fire. The fire is still burning within the 2000 Mussigbrod burned area. There is a large amount of deadfall on the ground with numerous snags throughout the area, making it unsafe for firefighters to tackle it head-on. Lookouts are being utilized to monitor the fire. Crews are looking for options in case the fire moves closer to private lands.
The same command team is overseeing the Thompson Creek Fire, which is burning on 85 acres near Mystic Lake. Crews on the fire have completed line with a hose lay including sprinklers around the perimeter. They also have improved the line to 10 feet on 70% of the perimeter.
MISSOULA -- The Solomon Fire is burning southeast of Missoula, MT in the Welcome Creek Wilderness on the Missoula Ranger District. It is located approximately 6 miles south of Interstate 90/Rock Creek Exit #126, near Solomon Mountain.
The 300-acre lightning-caused fire continues to be active in the afternoons due to persistent hot, dry, and breezy conditions and low relative humidity. The fire is burning steadily, with firefighters reporting occasional single and group tree torching, short-range spotting, and short up-hill runs. The location of the fire is in steep and thickly timbered terrain with snags, or hazard trees, making up about half of the standing fuel and is surrounded to the south, east, and west by the 2007 Sawmill Fire burned area.. Fire growth has been observed primarily on the north side of Solomon Mountain and is typically between 50-75 acres of new growth per day, slowly moving to the north and east.
The terrain, fuel type, and the presence of snag trees limit the ability to place firefighters directly on the fire. Firefighter and public safety is the top priority when assessing this engagement. No structures or infrastructure are currently threatened. Firefighters and engines will be actively patrolling the Rock Creek Corridor. Firefighters are also patrolling the fire from the air. A helicopter may be used as needed to check and limit fire spread.