Wildfire Roundup For July 17, 2017

Jul 17, 2017

Updated 6:50 pm

In addition to the Lolo Peak Fire, several other fires on the Lolo National Forest include a pair on the Ninemile ranger district. Those are the approximately three acre Sunrise Fire, located ten miles south of Superior, and the estimated 12-mile Burdette Fire is located about nine miles southeast of Tarkio. That fire showed minimal activity yesterday.

On the Seeley Lake Ranger District, the Monahan Fire is located about 17 miles north of Ovando and is burning near the Wilderness boundary in remote terrain.

Updated 5:15 pm

The Lolo National Forest's Facebook page says: We're getting lots of calls from people seeing smoke west of Florence in the Bitterroot Mountains. It's coming from a fire in Missoula County on the Lolo National Forest. The lightning-caused Lolo Peak Fire was first discovered on Saturday. It is burning in the south fork of Lolo Creek and is currently estimated at 15 acres. A helicopter dumped buckets of water on the fire this morning to help control its size and spread. Smoke is visible from Florence and Highway 93 this afternoon. When we get more information on this fire, we will share it here.

Boyd Hartwig, a spokesperson for the Lolo National Forest says,

“It’s a super remote fire. It’s not by any structures or property. Fire manager’s currently assessing any kind of action we need to take on that fire. It might be some bucket work. But it’s a fire we’re not going to put any personnel on right away just because of its location and just the difficulty and safety issues associated with that."

The Lewis and Country Sheriff’s office will announce this evening if it is safe for people near the Lookout Fire to return home, or if a mandatory evacuation must be put in place.

The Sheriff’s Office will give the evacuation update during a public meeting at the Wolf Creek Elementary School at 7pm. Most of the 46 residents in the area have already voluntarily evacuated, according to the county sheriff.

The fire is burning about 390 acres southwest of Wolf Creek. It was detected Saturday, and this morning Type 1 Incident Management team took over the lightning caused fire.

Also in Lewis and Clark County, about four miles north of Lincoln, the Park Creek Fire is burning about sixteen hundred acres.. Kathy Bushnell with the Helena National Forest says the fire is surrounded to the north and east by previously burned areas of forest.

“That’s really the direction the fire is moving. And so once it reaches those areas we anticipate the fire activity to diminish quite a bit," Bushnell said. 

No homes or structures are at risk. Today, fire crews finished a handline between the town and the fire.

Updated 3:00 pm

Several fires have been detected due to recent lightning activity in Southwest Montana. Firefighters are being dispatched to work on these fires as they are reported. Most remain small in size ( 1/10 to ¼ acre). Most of these fires are located in remote areas with difficult access.

The Whetstone Ridge Fire is 371 acres, and the Meyers Fire is 75 acres. Both of these fires are burning in remote locations and dense timber. They are located approximately 20 miles SW of Philipsburg in the Saphire Mountains. Both fires have zero percent containment.

Today, crews will be taking advantage of the precipitation that was received from yesterday's thunderstorms and begin building fireline around the perimeter of the Meyers Fire and establishing helispots to allow for helicopter support to the fires. They will also be working to clear an old road that will allow for access to these fires.

Resources working on these two fires include:theLewis & Clark Hotshots, Bitterroot Hotshots; 2 Type 2 Handcrews, 3 Helicopters, and misc. overhead (100 personnel).

Other Area Fires:

  • Garfield: 8 acres, contained, located 2 miles west of Clark Canyon Reservoir

  • Browns: 1 acre, firefighters are monitoring, located 13 miles north of Butte

  • Elkhorn: 1/10 acre, contained, 6 miles NE of Boulder

  • Twin Adams: ½ acre, contained, located 5 miles east of Glen in the East Pioneer Mtns

  • Granite: firefighters are enroute to fire, located 13 miles SW of Melrose

  • Swamp: 1/10 acre, contained, located 5 miles east of Philipsburg

  • Happy Peak: 1 acre, contained, located 10 miles SW of Gerogetown Lake

People are encouraged to report fires to the Dillon Dispatch Center at (406) 683-3975.

Area Closures:

An area closure has been established for FS Roads 8671, 5110, 5107 and 5112. The following trails are also closed: 8020 (Whetstone Ridge) and 8109. For more details on this closure, go online to:

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been established for approximately 7 miles around the Whetstone Ridge and Meyers fire. Please respect the airspace and do not fly drones in this area.

Updated 7:00 am

It was a busy weekend for firefighters in Western Montana.

They were able to quickly contain a suspected lightning-caused fire in Pattee Canyon just east of Missoula yesterday. The aircraft that attacked the two acre fire have been released and a Hot Shot crew is improving fireline and extinguishing hot spots today.

Crews also brought under control a 20-acre fire at the Kelly Island fishing access west of Missoula.

The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s office says three fires broke out Saturday afternoon, including two near Augusta.

The largest, the 400 acre Lookout Fire, is being taken over by a Type 1 management team today. The Great Falls Tribune reports that at least 46 people have voluntarily evacuated. That fire is approximately five miles west of Wolf Creek.

The Park Creek Fire in Lewis and Clark County is now estimated acres is about 275 acres. The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest's Facebook page says  equipment has been moved in to remove dead trees to allow firefighters a safer place to work. The focus is the south end of the fire.

 it is bordered on three sides by previous fire/burned areas: the NW Klondike Fire, the N-NW Snow Talon Fire, and the E Sucker Creek Fire.

In Northwest Montana, the road closure on Thompson River Road has been lifted. Authorities say to expect increased traffic due to firefighting efforts.

In that area, the Lazier Creek 3 Fire located south of Highway 2 and west of the Thompson River Road is now being called 70 percent contained.

Leaders of the 436 people fighting that fire say, "firefighters on the remaining fire perimeter made good progress with mop up operations working several hundred feet into the interior."

The Rogers Mountain Fire located 3 miles Northwest of Happy’s Inn is 78 acres and 90 percent contained.

The 16 acre Grubb Fire located north of Pleasant Valley. is 100 percent contained. Resources remain on scene to patrol the fire.

Located northwest of the Meadow Peak Fire Lookout, the 12 acre NW Meadow Peak Fire is 100 percent contained. Resources remain on scene to patrol the fire.

So is the 4 acre 2645 Fire, located just west of the NW Meadow Peak Fire. Resources remain on scene to patrol the fire.

Firefighting resources, including helicopters, will be available for initial attack activity in the area of the above fires.

South of Beavertail Pond, near Rock Creek on Missoula Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest, the Slide Rock Fire was estimated at 40 acres on Saturday. 

The Little Hogback Fire discovered July, 13 is located about three miles southeast of Bitterroot Flat Campground . TheLolo National Forest says the fire is approximately 20 acres and located in rough, steep, and remote terrain with heavy timber and no road access. No structures are threatened by this fire.

In Eastern Montana, the 11,700 acre July Fire near Zortman is now 90 percent contained. The interagency incident management team is now transitioning management of the fire back to the Bureau of Land Management.