Blog Cabin

Entries in Montana fires (290)

Sunday
Sep032017

Caribou Fire more than doubles in size, more evacuations ordered

Residents view the increased activity of the Caribou Fire on Saturday evening - Forest Service photo (WEST KOOTENAI)- Dry conditions and high winds are creating massive growth on the explosive Caribou Fire, which has now more than doubled in size since Friday.

The fire, which started small after being ignited by lightning on August 11th, has blown up in the hot, dry weather of the past couple of days, and has now scorched nearly 14,000 acres. The fire is burning 18-miles northwest of Eureka on the west side of Lake Koocanusa, above the East Fork of the Yaak and has spread across the Canadian border.

Authorities are reporting this morning some structures have been lost as the fire made a 4-mile run yesterday. 

The Lincoln County Sheriff has expanded the initial evacuation order for both the West Kootenai North and South Zones. That impacts the small communities of Dodge Creek, Spring Creek and West Kootenai. Just over 300 people live in the West Kootenai area. 

The Red Cross has set up emergency services for evacuees have been set up at the Church of God in Eureka. A community meeting os set for 7 tonight at the Kootenai Fire Hall. 

Sunday
Aug272017

Western Montana's "Big 3" fires close in on $100-million mark

The Lolo Peak Fire has been burning since being started by lightning in mid-July -Dennis Bragg photo (MISSOULA)- This is already one of the most expensive fire seasons on record in Montana. 

And Western Montana's "Big 3" fires are chewing through most of the money, with the combined total approaching $100-million. 

The latest report shows the Lolo Peak Fire's price tag just hit $30.8 million dollars. But the Sapphire Complex burning above Rock Creek and the Sunrise Fire near Superior aren't far behind, with both fires costing over $27-million dollars each. Those three fires have burned a combined total of just under 100,000 acres through Saturday night. 

The Meyers Fire in Granite County has cost $21.1-million to date. The Rice Ridge Fire, which continues to burn near Seeley Lake has passed the $20-million mark. 

Other fires that have cost more than $1-million dollars include the Liberty Fire southeast of Arlee, the Alice Creek and Arastra Fires near Lincoln, the Tamarack Fire, and the Blue Bay Fire on Flathead Lake. 

Thursday
Aug242017

Neptune tanker grounded with engine problem 

Neptune P2V in action- Neptune Facebook page file photo(HELENA)- One of Neptune Aviation's venerable P2V tankers was forced to divert for a landing in Helena last night, after it developed an engine problem in flight. 

KTVH reports the prop-driven tanker was enroute to help the Forest Service with a new fire new Dillon when the problem cropped up with one engine. The plane landed safely and crews are replacing the engine before taking to the air Thursday.

Neptune's planes have been flying hundreds of sorties this summer, especially with very active fire season in Western Montana. The remaining P2Vs are set to be retired at a special ceremony in Missoula at the end of September. 

Thursday
Aug242017

Montana air quality improves slightly 

(MISSOULA)- Residents of Missoula County and the northern Bitterroot continue to suffer with terrible air quality from all the fire smoke. 

DEQ reports air quality was "unhealthy" in Missoula and Frenchtown as well as Hamilton late Wednesday evening. And in Lolo, the air was even worse, reaching "hazardous" levels. 

However, by Thursday morning conditions had improved somewhat, with all those same areas reporting air was "unhealthy for sensitive groups."  

And forecasters aren't expecting any real long term relief, with more dry weather in the forecast after a chance of thunderstorms Thursday afternoon. 

Wednesday
Jul062016

Cooler, calmer conditions helping on Observation Fire

USFS photo shows a retardant line near the fire earlier this week(HAMILTON)- Cooler, calmer weather and some rain showers are exactly what firefighters need in the Bitterroot, as they work to expand fire lines around the Observation Fire. 

The fire, burning in the Lost Horse drainage southwest of Hamilton, is the largest blaze in Montana so far during the 2016 fire season, having burned over 1,400-acres. 

Fire managers say they've been able to contain 30% of the fire now behind fire lines, with efforts helped by calmer winds over the past 24-hours. High winds have been problematic on the fire since it started in late June. 

Efforts now are to expand the fire line through steep terrain on the west side of the fire. A Stage 1 evacuation alert remains in place, asking residents of the area to be prepared to evacuation if conditions change.