Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 5, 2017

Aug 5, 2017

The 21,573-acre Sapphire Complex is burning roughly 25 miles south/southeast of Missoula in the Rock Creek Drainage. The Granite County Sheriff Friday night issued a YELLOW pre-evacuation warning for the Upper Willow Creek Drainage.

Goat Creek Fire: 7,634 acres, 45% contained. Fire crews held the fireline along Rock Creek, Brewster Creek, and the north flank of the fire. Crews were able to go direct along the east flank, utilizing heavy equipment and handcrews accompanied by air support. Today, firefighters will patrol and mop up along Rock Creek Road and around structures extinguishing any hot spots. They will also work to improve line along Spring Creek to the north. Aircraft will support crews establishing direct fireline on the ground with retardant drops.

Little Hogback Fire: 13,111 acres, 0% contained. The east edge of the fire was active yesterday evening, cresting Sandstone Ridge and spreading to the east. Along the southwest portion of the road, fire resources held the line and progressed with burning operations along the road. Crews prepared indirect line and assessed structures in the area. Firefighters will continue to prep structures and provide protection in the Red and Yellow evacuation zones today. They will monitor fire spread, and the heavy equipment taskforce will work to extend indirect line on the east edge to the north.

Sliderock Fire: 828 acres, 20% contained. The heavy equipment task force made good progress widening indirect line toward the south. Crews held containment lines on the south-southeast sides of the fire with assistance from aerial resources on the north side. Fire resources will monitor the fireline and utilize aircraft when needed.

The 12,900-aacre Sunrise fire southeast of Superior is now 10-percent contained. There will be a public meeting at the Lozeau Lodge tonight at 7 pm. Both incident management teams will be there to update the public on the fire and address questions.

Active fire behavior was predicted today because of shifting winds over the fire. A Stage 3 evacuation order remains for Verde Creek residents along Road 450 and for residents in Quartz Creek. Residents in Quartz Flats and Sunrise are now in Stage 2 Evacuation and may return to their homes. We caution all residents in the area to remain vigilant as conditions can change quickly. Area closures remain around the Sunrise Fire incident from Trout Creek south to FS road #341. All roads contained within this boundary are closed. Superior and Frenchtown Rural Fire Departments provided engines to patrol the north side of the river for new fire starts. A predicted shift in wind direction today was expected to cause slopes that have been sheltered to become more active. There is potential for fire growth to the north and south threatening structures in Quartz Creek and Verde Creek. Burnout operation around structures in Quartz creek, Quartz Flats and Sunrise Creek have effectively directed the main fire front around these communities. Crews are mopping up around structures to secure control lines.

12-percent containment for the 3,769-acre Liberty Fire southeast of Arlee. A community meeting will be held at the Potomac Community Center, 29750 Potomac Road, Bonner, MT at 6 this evening. Officials with the incident management will provide an update on the fire. No evacuation orders are in effect at this time.

The Evacuation Warning for the community of Placid Lake remains in effect until east flank containment lines are secure. Today firefighters took advantage of cooler weather to improve and expand lines. The priority remains to hold the fire at the 2003 Boles Meadow burn scar and to continue improving primary containment lines while building new contingency lines. With new access open along the Finley Creek Road firefighters will be scout for opportunities construct more direct line near the fire’s edge. On the fire’s south and west flanks near the Rattlesnake Wilderness, direct access to the fire is restricted by dense stands of lodgepole pines that are extremely dangerous to work in. A northwest wind pattern was expected to transport smoke from fires in Canada over the burn area reducing fire behavior. Fire growth was expected to be minimal today due to a combination of smoke cover and higher relative humidity.

7,740-acres now burned on the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake. On Friday fire crews on the ground continued to build fireline on the south west of the fire using heavy equipment. Heavy air tankers dropped fire retardant on the east side of the fire to slow a portion of the fire moving to the east. On the southwest side of the fire, crews continued to build control line, extinguish hot areas where possible and put in additional hose lays. On the northeast corner of the fire, near Morrell Falls, the fire made several small runs toward the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Aircraft were unable to fly until later in the day due to the late lifting inversion. Once able to fly, nine aircraft made water drops on the southeast corner of the fire and retardant drops along the east side of the fire.

Structure protection groups continue to thin fuels and place hose lays along the Highway 83 corridor and the north side of Seeley Lakes and the Double Arrow community. The evacuation warning issued to residents on both sides of Highway 83 south of Rice Ridge Road to Morrell Creek and south of Cottonwood Lakes Road east of Highway 83, including the town of Seeley Lake and Double Arrow Ranch is still in effect. No actual evacuations have been ordered. A fire information booth will be staffed at the Valley Market on Highway 83 from 10am to 6pm Residents of the area should sign up for Smart911 at to ensure they receive any emergency messages about potential evacuations. The American Red Cross has opened a shelter for those who wish to pre-evacuate. It is located at the Potomac Community Center, 29827 Potomac Rd., in Potomac. All evacuees are welcome and there is no cost to stay in the shelter.

12,777 acres and 2-percent containment on the Meyers Fire southwest of Philipsburg. The eastern flank of the fire is located in rough terrain making it difficult for firefighters to use direct fire suppression, so a predominantly indirect strategy has been implemented. Indirect fire line is being constructed utilizing roads and natural barriers in areas that present the best chance for stopping the fire growth should it reach them. This plan provides the most efficient use of the available resources and will allow firefighters to directly attack the fire edge in an effective and safe way. Other areas of the fire have been directly suppressed. Containment is currently at 2% and should begin to increase as existing and additional fire lines are improved. Although most of the constructed line is indirect at this point, the incident objectives, as directed by the local agency administrators, are being met. Structure protection efforts in the Moose Lake area have been implemented including a large contingent of engines that will monitor fire progress in case it should move toward the area. Overnight monitoring continues. The structural protection group will also support other nearby fire operations and be available for initial attack should other new fires develop. Crews will actively search for potential spot fires from the areas that burned yesterday and also continue to construct and improve lines to the north and east of the fire. Existing roads or geologic formations will be enhanced when possible. Crews continue to utilize timber management equipment to improve the shaded fire break (trees limbed up and ladder fuels removed) along road #5106. Residents of the East Fork Reservoir and Georgetown areas can expect to see fire vehicles and equipment in the area over the next few days. While the Meyers fire is not posing an imminent danger to those areas, the incident management team and local fire staff are developing a longer term contingency plan to protect those communities from the Meyers fire and potential future fires. Part of that plan will be identifying terrain suited for the construction of fire breaks (grasslands vs timber) that provides the best likelihood of success. Weather/Smoke Forecast: The Meyers fire sent up more smoke yesterday with the warmer and drier conditions.

Cooler temperatures are expected today with less fire activity and smoke expected from the Meyers fire but we could see additional smoke from other fires in the region and Canada.

Evacuations: The Granite County Sheriff issued EVACUATION notices for the FROG POND BASIN, COPPER CREEK CAMPGROUND areas, and the MOOSE LAKE area. These areas are closed for public health and safety due to wildfire.