Montana Wildfire Update for August 19,2018


    Montana Wildfires

    The following is a collection of updates on wildfires burning across Montana. NBC Montana is continuing to follow these fires and this list will be updated throughout the day as soon as new information becomes available.

    The Forest Service has released the following update for the Monument and Wigwam fires:

    Ennis, MT, August 19, 2018 - The lightning caused Monument Fire was detected on August 6, 2018. Helicopters continue to support both fires, and fixed wing air tankers will be used to drop fire retardant on the east side of the Wigwam fire and near the Johnny Ridge Road on the Monument Fire. Crews will continue structure protection, evaluating opportunities for direct suppression, locating contingency lines, and suppress spot fires.

    Monument Fire: 5,733 acres, 15% contained; Engines: 2; Water Tenders: 2; Total Fire Personnel: 122 (4 helicopters are being shared)

    Wigwam Fire: 4,191 acres, 10% contained; Engines: 12; Dozers: 3; Water Tenders: 1; Total Fire Personnel:120

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    A community meeting was held in Ennis on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

    Stage 1 fire restrictions will begin for all of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest on August 15, 2018. Stage 1 fire restrictions apply to campfires and smoking. Under Stage 1 restrictions, the following acts are prohibited: Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire unless noted in the exemptions below or as designated in the specific closure order.


    The Forest Service has released the following update for the Tenmile and Sterling Complex fires:

    Summary: In addition to the 250 homes the Pinkham Tower Fire is threatening, radio communication towers, important to Lincoln County communities are also threatened. Firefighters, with assistance from smoke cover and cooler weather have so far, successfully been able to keep the Tenmile and Sterling Complex fires from spreading north and northeast where structures are concentrated.

    Over the last five-day period, the fires in the Sterling Complex have gained over 130 acres. While the percentage of contained fire area is not changing daily, heavy equipment placed in strategic locations are reaching daily goals. Smoke and an inversion is keeping the fire’s behavior subdued in the mornings. In the afternoons as the inversion lifts and temperatures rise, so too does the fire behavior. The fires within the Sterling Complex are burning in very thick timber as single trees torch and ignite new uncontained areas. Supporting firefighters in their suppression work are three helicopters delivering water to problem areas of the fires.

    Weather: Partly cloudy skies and haze will help suppress fire behavior again today; however, a slight chance of thunderstorms this evening may produce northeast winds on ridgetops that gust to 25 mph overnight.

    Today: Along the east flank of the Pinkham Tower fire, firefighters are spraying water on stumps, logs and other burning debris to speed the mopup process. Along the primary fire’s western edge, a dozer is working as close to the fire’s edge as possible to construct containment line. It is moving northeast. In a couple days, it will connect with a feller-buncher line located on the northern flank that was completed two days ago.

    A wildland fire module and the Flathead Interagency Hotshot crew will be working with dozers and skidgens on the eastern and northwestern flanks of the Huckleberry/ Cliff Fire. This area is thick with heavy timber and requires several more days of concentrated saw and cutting work before the west, east and south flanks of the fire can be fully contained. The fire remains uncontained on the north flank where firefighters are looking for and extinguishing spot fires that may occur between the Huckleberry and Pinkham Tower Fire.

    A 20-person handcrew, supported by three water tenders are working in two 10-person squads along the north and south flanks of the Tenmile Fire extinguishing stubborn heat that continues to puff up. Tenmile Fire remains 91% contained.

    In addition to firefighters extinguishing hot spots in the Tenmile fire, a Resource Advisor will be evaluating the containment lines to determine what the suppression repair needs will be for the fire area. Suppression repair work is one of the final stages of maintaining a fire as it helps reduce the effects of erosion and reduces the visual scarring heavy equipment cause. While it is still too early to begin repairing the containment lines, this is an important first step firefighters are preparing to take in the next few days.

    Evacuations/Closures: No changes. A pre-evacuation notice for Edna Creek Road, Lake Creek Road, Sutton Ridge Road, and Swamp Creek Road remains in effect. Residents should be SET to leave on short notice with plans to take important belongings, medicines, and pets. For the most current information on evacuations, call the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office 406-293-6295.

    The Forest Service has released the following update for the Davis fire:

    Please join us for a Community Meeting at the Upper Yaak Fire Station on Sunday, August 19, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. Current fire information and the Population Protection Plan will be discussed.

    Size: 6,032 acres Cause: Lightning/Natural

    Location: Approximately 10 miles northwest of Yaak, Montana Structures destroyed: 0

    Total Personnel: 163 including 2 hand crews, 1 helicopter, 3 engines, 3 heavy equipment task forces, 1 dozer, 2 skidgeons, 6 water tenders, and 1 masticator Saturday, a heavy equipment task force was used to improve the indirect line just east of the fire area. Further to the east, fire managers are preparing to start constructing a contingency line to serve as a long-term fire protection measure for the Yaak community. On the southeastern and southwestern fire edges, crews continued patrolling and mopping up to further secure the fire lines. Today, heavy equipment will be used to strengthen the indirect control line along the east fire perimeter, connecting to the existing dozer line on the southern tip of the fire. Heavy equipment operators will begin constructing the eastern contingency line. Firefighters will continue to patrol and secure the southeastern and southwestern portions of the fire, using sprinklers, hose lays and helicopter water bucket drops to cool hotspots as needed.

    Resources Threatened: The Northwest Peak Lookout, Garver Mountain Lookout, white bark pine protection area and a SNOTEL site are potentially threatened should the fire spread.

    Evacuations and Closures: The Kootenai National Forest has an area closure in effect around the Davis Fire. Forest Road 338 beyond the Beetle Creek Road remains closed to the public for firefighter and public safety. The Fire Closure Order is posted on the Kootenai National Forest website https://www.fs.usda.gov/kootenai

    Weather & Fuel Conditions: Today, the record of 45 consecutive days without measurable precipitation has been broken. A very weak weather pattern over the Northern Rockies will cause thermally driven winds. Cloud cover and smoke have shaded the Davis Fire which has moderated temperatures, however, fuels are still very dry. Meteorologists predict high temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s with humidity in 28 to 35% range.

    Temporary Flight Restrictions: Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) are in effect around the entire fire area. Temporary Flight Restrictions also apply to unmanned aircraft systems (drones), so if you fly, we can’t!

    Announcements: Stage 2 Fire Restrictions remain in effect: http://lincolncountymt.us/images/departments/ema/pdf/STAGE_II_RESTRICTIONS.pdf

    Wildfire Smoke Report: The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has issued an air quality alert that includes Lincoln County, in effect until conditions improve. The air quality alert is due to smoke from wildfires in northwest Montana, Idaho, Washington, and British Columbia. This alert will be updated again at 8AM on 8/20/2018. http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/smokereport/mostRecentUpdate.aspx

    The Forest Service has released the following update for the Brownstone fire:

    FLATHEAD NATIONAL FOREST

    650 Wolfpack Way

    Kalispell, MT 59901

    Forest Supervisor’s Order

    AREA CLOSURE ORDER

    BROWNSTONE FIRE AREA

    Pursuant to Title 36 Code of Federal Regulation 261.50 (b), the following restriction is in effect on the Spotted Bear Ranger District on the Flathead National Forest, Flathead County, Montana. This temporary restriction is in addition to those enumerated in Subpart A, Part 261, Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations. These restrictions become effective when signed and will remain in effect until rescinded. See the attached map, Exhibit A.

    36 CFR 261.53e – Special Closures

    It is prohibited to go into or be upon the area (Title 36 CFR 261.53(e)).

    The closure cited in this order is to protect the public from potential harm from wildfires and firefighting operations associated with the existing and potential fire hazards.

    Description of Closed Areas:

    This area closure applies to the Flathead National Forest and closes the following area:

    All lands contained within the following perimeter.

    Starting at Tillson Peak traveling east to Fault Peak, then a direct line to the southeast to Junction Mountain. From Junction Mountain, South along the Continental Divide to, and including Camp Creek Pass. Then South along and including the Camp Creek Trail #233 to its junction with the Danaher Creek Trail #126. Follow, but excluding, trail #126 to the North to the Youngs Ford. From Youngs Ford, the closure will follow the eastern edge of the river to the Big Prairie Ranger Station and the junction with and including the Tillson Peak Trail #127. From that trail junction north to Packrat Mountain and back to Tillson Peak. River use will be allowed to continue, accesses only from the west side of the river will remain open between the Youngs Ford and the pack bridge at Big Prairie.

    36 CFR – National Forest System Trails

    It is prohibited to be on the trail (36 CFR 261.55(a)).

    The closure cited in this order is to protect the public from potential harm from wildfires and firefighting operations associated with the existing and potential fire hazards.

    Description of Trails:

    All trails contained within the perimeter described above:

    Tillson Peak Trail #127

    Danaher Creek Trail #126 – From Big Prairie R.S. to the Youngs Ford

    Gordon Ford #126A

    Wire Ford #126B

    Catchem Creek Trail #269

    Camp Creek Trail #233

    Sandstone Creek Trail #743

    Brownstone Creek Trail #465

    Exemptions:

    Pursuant to Title 36 CFR 261.50(e), the following are exempt from this restriction:

    1. Persons with a permit issued by a forest officer specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.

    2. Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force in the performance of an official duty.

    Done at Kalispell, Montana this day of August 17th, 2018.

    By: ______/s/ Chip Weber____________

    CHIP WEBER

    Forest Supervisor

    Penalty: Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both (16 USC 551 and 18 USC 3559 and 3571).

    Notification: A copy of this order shall be posted as prescribed in 36 CFR 261.51.

    Glacier National Park has released the following update for the Howe Ridge fire:

    Due to recent fire activity, weather predictions for the next 24-36 hours, and recommendations from the Incident Management Team, Glacier National Park has issued an additional evacuation and a new evacuation warning:

    Evacuation of Fish Creek Campground, including all campers, NPS employees, and the Fish Creek Ranger Station residence.

    Fish Creek Campground Road is closed from the Camas Road junction.

    Evacuation Warning from the Quarter Circle Bridge Road north. This includes Apgar, the Grist Road, and all areas accessed from Quarter Circle Bridge Road.

    Trails off the Camas Road are now closed.

    To clarify, this means people must leave Fish Creek. People in the Apgar or areas accessed from the Quarter Circle Bridge Road area need to be ready to leave but are not being told leave at this time.

    A weather system is predicted to bring slightly cooler temperatures, but the frontal passage will increase winds and cause shifts in wind directions. This could significantly affect fire behavior on the southern and western flanks of the fire. Smoke yesterday over the fire perimeter prohibited air resources from dropping water on the fire.

    Crews are working around structures in the Fish Creek Campground area and along the Inside North Fork Road to reduce fuels and to set up sprinkler systems. Structure protection efforts continue along the north end of Lake McDonald, using sprinkler systems around the remaining structures on North Lake McDonald Road. Crews are installing hoses and sprinklers to minimize potential fire spread towards the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Fire managers will continue to proactively plan for protection of other areas as the fire progresses.

    The Howe Ridge Fire is active on the southern and southwestern flanks of the fire with backing and flanking fire. In the evening and overnight, the fire was driven by down-valley winds in heavy dead fuels, primarily from the 2003 Robert Fire. An Infrared (IR) flight over the fire last night mapped an increase in the fires size to 7,835 acres. Yesterday, isolated single tree torching was observed within the fire perimeter, but spotting did not contribute to fire growth.

    Evacuations:

    The Fish Creek Campground area is now under an evacuation order. Evacuation orders remain in place for the North Lake McDonald road (private residences and the Lake McDonald Ranger Station), Lake McDonald Lodge area (all businesses, employees, and private residences), private residences along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and Sprague Creek and Avalanche Campgrounds.

    Road and Trail Closures: The Going-to-the-Sun Road remains open between St. Mary and Logan Pass. It is closed between the foot of Lake McDonald (near Apgar) and Logan Pass. The Inside North Fork Road and the Fish Creek Road are closed. Multiple trail closures are associated with this fire. As of Sunday Morning, all trails off of the Camas Road are closed. Please see full trail closures on the park’s website: www.nps.gov/glac.

    Fire Restrictions: Glacier National Park and most of western Montana are under Stage II Fire Restrictions. No campfires will be permitted in Glacier’s frontcountry or backcountry. Smoking is also prohibited except within an enclosed building, vehicle, developed recreation area, or barren area three feet in diameter. Propane stoves that have an on/off switch are permitted.

    A temporary flight restriction is in effect in the fire area.

    Smoke monitoring information is available at: http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/

    Phone Update:

    Fire information phone options have changed. For a recorded fire update, call (406) 888-7077.

    For Glacier National Park trip planning information, visit www.nps.gov/glac or call (406) 888-7800.

    For media or fire-specific questions, call (406) 578-8256.


    The Forest Service has released the following update for the Bacon Rind fire:

    Current size: 2,045 acres (10:00 A.M.)

    Location: Approximately 20 miles south of Big Sky, MT and 23 miles north of West Yellowstone, MT.

    Date Started: 7/20/2018 lightning-caused

    Closures: An area closure is in effect for the northwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park. The following trails are closed: Daly Creek Trail , Black Butte Trail, Daly/Black Butte Cutoff Trail, Daly/North Tepee Cutoff Trail, Specimen Creek Trail, Sportsman Lake Trail (east fork of Specimen) from HWY 191 to Gallatin BMA 3 miles from Sportsman Lake Cabin. Crescent-High Lake Trail, Skyrim Trail (Daly pass to Sheep Mountain),Fawn Pass Trail at HWY 191 to Gallatin BMA boundary,Fan Creek Trail to Sportsman Lake Trail junction, and the Bacon Rind Trail.

    The following Yellowstone National Park backcountry campsites are closed: WF2, WF1, WE1, WE4, WE7, WE5, WE6, WD1, WD6, WD4, WD5, WC2, WC3, and WC4. Custer Gallatin National Forest has issued an Area Closure on 8/14/18 closing the Monument Unit of Lee Metcalf Wilderness to all use from the national park boundary west to the Skyline Trail including trails: 176 Bacon Rind Trail , 151 Skyline Trail within the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, 52 Monument Trail

    Gallatin River Access: Access to the Gallatin River along Hwy 191 in Yellowstone National Park is restricted. There is NO river access from Fawn Pass Trailhead north to milepost 27. All other river access is open.

    Highway 191: Travelers could expect intermittent delays through Yellowstone National Park. Download the Montana Travel Info App for up-to-date information.

    For More Information on Yellowstone National Park Trail Closures: 307-344-2160 For More Custer Gallatin National Forest Information, Hebgen Lake Ranger District: 406-823-6961

    Resources: 2 – Twenty (20) person crews 1 – Type 3 (light) helicopter 4 – Type 6 engines

    Cooperating Agencies: Custer Gallatin National Forest Yellowstone National Park Gallatin County, MT Montana Department of Transportation

    Summary: Fire behavior was low yesterday, due to cloud cover in the afternoon and intermittent rain. Just under 1/10 inch of rain was recorded at the weather station, located near Bacon Rind Creek, over the last 24 hours. The Bacon Rind Fire is located in Yellowstone National Park (1,153 acres) and the Monument Unit of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness (892 acres). No significant change in acreage was noted. The fire is located near the west side of Highway 191. There were no traffic delays yesterday. Highway 191 is open and may have pilot car assistance, with short delays through the fire area, if needed today or in the future. The speed limit is reduced to 45 MPH through the fire area. The fire and smoke are visible along Highway 191. There could be times when smoke will reduce visibility along the road, be prepared to reduce speed for driving conditions. Please be cautious when driving along the road and be alert for firefighters and their vehicles. Stop only in open designated pullouts. The fire is not currently threatening any structures or private property. Decisions to manage or suppress fires are dependent on numerous factors including risk to firefighting resources, public safety, weather, fire behavior, availability of additional support, risk to valuable resources and private property. Fire has continually shaped the vegetation in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and help maintain the natural process in the area. Fires create diverse habitat and recycle nutrients back into the soil. The plant and animal life we see and enjoy is partially the result of fire. Highway 191 and roads leading into and through the Custer Gallatin National Forest and Yellowstone National Park are open. An area closure around the fire area is in effect. Check the attached closures page for more information. All visitor facilities, services, and businesses in surrounding communities are not impacted by the fire and remain open.

    The Forest Service has released the following update for the Goldstone and Beaver Creek fire:

    General Information: The Southwest Area Incident Management Team 4 will host a community meeting for the Goldstone and Beaver Creek Fires at 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, August 21, at the Wisdom Community Building. The meeting will be recorded and posted on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Facebook page for those unable to attend in-person: https://www.facebook.com/US-Forest-Service-Beaverhead-Deerlodge-National-Forest-1540138089548920/.

    Goldstone Fire Operations: The Goldstone Fire received rainfall yesterday which moderated fire activity. The increase in acreage is the result of updated infrared mapping, which had not been completed for several days due to competition with surrounding fires for aerial resources. Yesterday, crews discovered and contained a spot fire south of the main fire between Forest Road 185 and the Continental Divide. Using heavy equipment, firefighters continue to strengthen the southern firelines by connecting into the existing road system. On the west side, firefighters are developing strategies to prevent the fire from spreading onto private property. Over the next few days, resources may be reassigned to other portions of the fire as crews complete fireline construction to the north.

    Beaver Creek Fire Operations: Firefighters completed dozer line on the west side of the Beaver Creek Fire to minimize fire spread to private land. Crews are removing brush along Howell Creek Road #1278 and scouting additional locations for dozer lines to the east.

    Evacuations: There are currently no evacuation orders in effect for the Goldstone and Beaver Creek Fires. Residents should be aware of the dangers that may exist in their area, and monitor emergency services websites and local media outlets for information. For more information regarding evacuation preparedness, check with your local County Sheriff’s offices: http://beaverheadcounty.org/departments/sheriff/ and http://lemhicountyidaho.org/Sheriffs%20Office.htm.

    Fire Weather: Today the Goldstone and Beaver Creek Fires will see partly cloudy skies, with a slight chance for thunderstorms during the afternoon and evening. Winds will generally be light, with maximum temperatures in the low 70s. An approaching weather system will keep showers in the forecast overnight. Monday looks cool, showery, and breezy as a low pressure system pushes in from the northwest.

    Closures: The area around both fires remains closed for public safety. Roadblocks have been set up on forest roads accessing the two fire areas. In support of these closures, the Continental Divide Trail has been rerouted around the fires. The trail reroute maps and closure orders for both forests can be found on the InciWeb pages shown below.

    Restrictions: STAGE 1 FIRE RESTRICTIONS ARE IN EFFECT AS OF AUGUST 15, 2018. For information on current fire restrictions, please visit the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/bdnfand Salmon-Challis National Forest website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/scnf.

    Smoke Situation: Currently, there are 55 uncontained large fires in the nation which are filtering smoke into the valleys of Montana and Idaho. Smoke information can be found on the MT Dept. of Environmental Quality website: http://bit.ly/wildfiresmokereport.

    Goldstone Fire Information: (602) 529-5924

    Goldstone InciWeb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6091/

    Beaver Creek Fire Information: (406) 616-2788

    Beaver Creek InciWeb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6147/

    Email: 2018.GoldstoneFire@firenet.gov

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/US-Forest-Service-Beaverhead-Deerlodge-National-Forest-1540138089548920/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/BvrhdDrldgeNF

    The Forest Service has released the following update for the Shellrock fire:

    SIZE: 500 acres

    CONTAINMENT: 35 %

    CAUSE: Lightning

    FIRE LOCATION: 25 miles N of Helena, Cascade County

    PROTECTION: DNRC and Cascade County

    OWNERSHIP: Fish, Wildlife & Parks and private

    RESOURCES: 5 Engines, 3 Helicopters, 2 Twenty-person hand crews, and 6 pieces of Heavy Equipment (2 dozers, 4 skidgens)

    FIRE SITUATION: Due to the firefighters’ hard work, the fire is now transitioning into the mop-up stage. The increase in acreage reflects areas that burned within the constructed fire lines during the past day. Today fire resources will continue to hold and improve the existing lines while mopping-up where possible.

    The Shellrock Fire is burning heavy timber and grass in steep remote country with extremely difficult access. The fire is primarily located in the Beartooth Wildlife Management Area and portions of private ranchlands. The fire is approximately five miles north of Beaver Creek Road, and two miles west of Middle Creek Lake. A high-voltage powerline and pipeline is in the area but not threatened at this time along with two ranch cabins and a historic cabin.

    The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) County Assist Team, Incident Commander David Hamilton, is in place and managing the fire while working closely with local landowners, Cascade County, Fish Wildlife and Parks, and interagency fire cooperators.

    CLOSURE: Fish Wildlife and Parks Beartooth Wildlife Management Area is closed due to fire activity and will open as soon as it is safe to do so.

    EVACUATION: No evacuations are in place.

    The Forest Service has released the following update for the Paola Ridge Fire, Coal Ridge Fire, and Whale Butte Fires:

    The Sanders County Wildland Fire Information Center has released the following updates for the Rampike, Gardencreek, Weeksville, and Munson fires:

    There is little to report about the fires in Sanders County this morning as most local wildland fire agencies have been able to catch up with their respective workloads over the past several days. Cabinet Ranger District personnel continues to prepare a shaded fuel break in the Gem Saddle warming hut area and that structure, and the Gem Peak Lookout, a seasonal cabin rental on the Kootenai National Forest, have both been wrapped with protective heat-repelling material, ahead of the Rampike Fire. Shaded fuel breaks are breaks in the forest created by personnel where not all the trees and vegetation are removed, but enough are taken to moderate fire behavior significantly. At last count, the Rampike Fire is listed at 1,800 acres with about 100 acres of that total being in the Kootenai NF, and the rest being in the Idaho Panhandle NF, where the fire originated from a lightning strike July 31. The Rampike has not been very active over the last several days, in part due to bucket drops around the perimeter. It is being managed by a Type 3 Incident Management Team and is not an imminent threat to any nearby residents or critical infrastructure.

    In eastern Sanders County, the CSS&KT Division of Fire Type 3 IMT continues to work on the 2,052 acre Garden Creek Fire. Personnel and resources continue to be released as that fire becomes more secure each day. The IMT listed 50% containment yesterday and over 150 people are still assigned to it. The Weeksville and Munson fires on the Plains-Thompson Falls Ranger District are both controlled and in patrol status, as is the Bold Peak Fire, on Plains Unit DNRC protection in the upper portion of the Thompson River drainage. The Weeksville Fire is 54 acres, Munson is one acre and the Bold Peak Fire 1.1 acres.

    Stage II fire restrictions and Extreme fire danger ratings remain in place across Sanders County.


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