Fire season has hit the Northern Rockies and although it’s late this year, thanks to a cool, wet spring, there is plenty of fuel out there to burn.
As John Adams reports in the Great Falls Tribune today, in a briefing with Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Monday, Mike Kreyenhagan, a forecaster for the Northern Rockies Coordination Center put it this way: “I view the rest of the fire season as a race between the fuels drying out and the days getting shorter and a season-ending event. I’m not sure which on is going to win.”
The cool and wet spring certainly helped to ease the concern over lack of snowpack, but it also lead to more grass at lower elevations. Now that waist-high grass is about to dry out and Kreyenhagen said, “most fire folks feel we’re just days away from that stuff really becoming available to burn at the lower elevations.”
The following is a list of fires currently described as “active” within the Northern Rockies, all of which are in Montana and none of which are threatening any communities or homes:
Beach Fire (Yellowstone National Park): 222 people are currently on the Beach Fire 7 miles west of the Bridge Bay Campground in Yellowstone. The fire has burned approximately 520 acres and is estimated to be 72 percent contained. As of this morning, two 20-person hotshot crews remain at the fire to complete operations and will return to the fire camp at Fishing Bridge tonight.
Cardinal Creek (Bob Marshall Wilderness): A lightening start has led to a 400 acre fire in the heavy timber of the Flathead National Forest.
Dominic Point Fire (Northeast of Hamilton, in the Bitterroot Valley): As of this morning officials estimate that the blaze, which is 12 miles northeast of Hamilton to the west of Willow Mountain Lookout, has grown to roughly 900 acres. The fire is primarily burning in heavy timber. Six crews and a total of 110 personnel are currently on the south and west ends of the fire. An area of 6 square miles around Dominic point is currently closed. The fire was discovered on Sunday.
Siegel Creek (Plains): 20 percent of the 124 acre 10 miles southeast of Plains had been contained as of today. There has been little activity on this fire since Friday.The fire was started by an abandoned campfire.
Sula Fires: Two fires started by lightning in the Sula Ranger District on the Bitterroot National Forest have been contained. The largest blaze was .5 acres.