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Tag Archives: Montana Fires

Revisiting Fire History Studies

lakechelenfire

One of the cornerstones of current forest policy is the assumption that Western forests are outside of their normal density and appearance or what is termed “historic variability.” But a new look at fire history studies may challenge that assumption.

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Where There’s Smoke, There’s …

Normally, that big white horizon is mountains from this view.

It's awfully smoky around here this afternoon and we've been trying to track down where all this is coming from. All the fire camps around here are reporting a calm afternoon so far. That leads us to think much of it is coming from across the Idaho state line. UPDATE: Turns out, much of this smoke is coming from a 500-acre burnout that successfully joined the two I-90 Fires this afternoon.

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Bitterroot Fires Grow, Hot Shots Camp Out to Build Line

The Rockin fires burning in the Bitterroot National Forest grew to a total of 4,300 acres Tuesday as wind dried out the little the moisture that the valley got earlier in the week. The Helena hot shot crew is working to build line along the Rock Creek Trail to keep the fire from jumping the drainage. Fire officials said the crew spent the night at Lake Como to get on that early in the morning Wednesday. The three fires in the complex are burning in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness west of Lake Como and threaten no buildings. There are about 100 people on the fire and two helicopters. Elsewhere in the Bitterroot, 150 people are on the Barecastle Fire, which is burning about 20 miles southwest of Darby and was remapped Wednesday at 160 acres. The only building it's close to is the Barecone Lookout, which officials still say is threatened.

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Crews Continue to Protect Houses near Alberton, Make Progress

 
  Photo by Scott Poniewaz/New West
Crews on the I-90 Fires west of Missoula continued Monday afternoon and evening to try to secure the line around the east end of the West Mountain Fire to keep it from backing into the 10 buildings in an adjacent drainage.

Fire officials were also expecting to get some retardant and water drops in on that east flank and the Frenchtown Rural Fire Department crews were sprinkling the buildings and prepping them for the oncoming fire.

Update: Fire information officer Pat Cross said crews made good progress Monday afternoon in the absence of some high winds earlier predicted for the area. "It's been a much calmer day than yesterday," he said. Burning did pick up in areas, namely into the rugged terrain north of the West Mountain and Tarkio Fires.

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Crews Continue Battling Blazes West of Missoula, Interstate 90 Opens

 
  Photo of I-90 Fire by Chris Lombardi/New West
Hundreds of firefighters are out working on the now four fires west of Missoula near Alberton. Fire officials now estimate the blazes total about 3,300 acres and they're growing.

Meanwhile, the Lolo National Forest is also dealing with a new start in its Superior Ranger District, the Prospect Fire, which quickly grew to about 80 acres while smokejumpers were called in for initial attack today. By early evening it was about 350 acres and spotting one mile out in front of the fire -- moving pretty fast. A Type II team has been ordered for tomorrow.

Update: Officals reopened all four lanes of I-90 as of 2 p.m. today, but warn there still may be some delays and decreased speed limits. The Clark Fork River remains closed to all activities.

Click on "more" below for more updates.

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Bitterroot Fires Slow at 1,600 Acres, Lightning Storm Moves In

The Rockin' Fire Complex in the Bitterroott National Forest, which raced to about 1,600 acres in red-flag conditions yesterday was slowed Saturday by a late hanging inversion and low winds, fire officials said. Afternoon, after the inversion of smoke lifts, is the prime burning period. As of the 7 p.m. update, the complex, which includes five fires, totalled about 1,600 acres. A light crew is on the ground guiding helicopter water drops, but the blazes are burning in mostly rugged terrain and do not threaten any structures, so there is little direct firefighting going on up there. Officials were also bracing as a thunderhead moved into the valley tonight. The forest is still open, with the exception of the following roads and trails: Rock Creek Trail #580 at the head of Lake Como, the west end of Lake Como to all boats for helicopter activity, Little Rock Creek Road #550, and South Lick Creek Road #5623. Wildland Fire Use teams are also monitoring 18 fires in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. It always helps to get a visual of these fires. Click "more" for a map of the Rockin' complex.

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