Sunday was the third consecutive day, with no new growth reported on the Moose Ridge or Spotted Eagle fires. Fire behavior remained minimal with most of the fire area receiving precipitation. On the Benchmark Fire protective structure wrap was removed from buildings, all fire hose was pulled and water bar features were constructed on the hand-dug fireline.

On the Spotted Eagle fire mop-up continued along the eastern flank. Mop-up standard is 100 feet in from the fireline. Hot spots were found on the north edge of the southernmost “finger” of the fire. Containment increased to 22%.

The Benchmark Fire west of Augusta is now 100% contained.

While firefighters kept the Sheep Fire out of Heart Butte, its northern tip burned all the way to BIA Rte 1. (USFS Photo)

The lightening caused Spotted Eagle Fire is at 53,848 acres. Please note that only 40% of the fire is actively being suppressed while the remaining 60% of the fire located in remote country and Wilderness, is in monitor status, and no containment is anticipated letting nature and the changing season assist fire suppression. Thus, of the 40% actively being suppressed, 30% of this is contained.

The Sheep Mountain and Moose Ridge Fires remain in monitor status and have not grown since their initial run. Containment is not a management strategy for these fires due to their remote, inaccessible location and lack of fire growth, letting nature and the changing season assist fire suppression.

With the rain and snow over the last several days, the Rocky Mountain Ranger District of the Lewis & Clark National Forest has revised area closures associated with the wildland fires currently burning on the District.

As of midnight on September 7, 2015 the Rocky Mountain Ranger District will reduce the large area closures that have been in effect since August 28, 2015. The only areas that will remain closed are the areas within the existing fire perimeters. In the meantime, fire crews will be evaluating and mitigating hazards along key travel routes within the fire perimeters. When Fire Managers determine those routes are safe for public travel, the District will begin incrementally opening those travel routes.

 

Thank-you notes from Choteau residents to fire crew battling the Benchmark Fire west of Augusta. (USFS Photo)

Acreage for the Complex slightly increased to 64,588 acres due to improved mapping. About 1.5 to 2 inches of rain was received across all fire areas over the last three-days from the storm cell that passed through the area. About 3 to 6 inches of snow fell above 6,000 feet. Fire behavior remained minimal for all fires. Heavy cloud cover and high winds prohibited air support.

Today: Weather allowing, all fires will be flown over using infra-red to determine areas of heat and hot spots. Using this information, fire managers will be able to assess the degree to which the precipitation suppressed the fires. Minimal fire activity is expected. The Incident Management Team will be responsible for initial attack with engines patrolling in the area of the fires. There are currently 272 personnel working these fires.

Closures: With the rain and snow over the last several days, the Rocky Mountain Ranger District of the Lewis & Clark National Forest has revised area closures associated with the wildland fires currently burning on the District.

The only areas that will remain closed are the areas within the existing fire perimeters. In the meantime, fire crews will be evaluating and mitigating hazards along key travel routes within the fire perimeters. When Fire Managers determine those routes are safe for public travel, the District will begin incrementally opening those travel routes.

The highest priority among the travel routes to open will be North Fork Birch Creek trail #121 from Swift Dam to Badger Pass. This trail provides public access to the Flathead National Forest.