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Entries in Montana fires (291)

Saturday
Aug292015

Crews almost done with Essex fire break against Sheep Fire

A helicopter navigates through smoke at the Thompson Divide Complex Saturday- Jonathan Moor photo(ESSEX)- Fire crews have nearly completed construction of a fire break around the small community of Essex, in an effort to save the town from burning because of the stubborn Sheep Fire.

Meanwhile, evacuations for area residents remain in place, and U.S. 2 remains closed to through traffic around the southern end of Glacier National Park. 

The Sheep Fire was slowed somewhat Saturday by heavy smoke that blanketed the area. Still, it has burned over 1500 acres and continues to threaten more than 200 structures in Essex, as well the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad line. None of the fire has been contained as of Saturday evening. 

Smoke also limited helicopter water drops Saturday, but the cold front that moved through the Northern Rockies didn't produce the strong winds that firefighters had been worried about. Evacuees are being sheltered in West Glacier. 

Meanwhile, the other fires in the Thompson Divide Complex continue to burn. There's no containment on the 700-acre Granite Fire. However, the first fire in the complex, the Thompson Fire, burning in the Nyack backcountry, is now 20% contained. 

Saturday
Aug292015

Fish Creek fire grows nearly fivefold in past 24-hours

Heavy smoke covered the Fish Creek Valley Friday night- MTN photo(SUPERIOR)- The lighting-caused West Fork Fish Crew fire is now nearly five times the size it was Friday night, consuming nearly 12,000 acres, according to the latest maps. 

Fire managers say the blaze had blown up an additional 9,000 acres in the dry, windy and smoky conditions Friday evening, destroying 5-structures at the Forest Service administrative site. But so far, crews have been able to save all the private cabins and structures in the area. 

The Mineral County Sheriff's Office ordered evacuations Friday evening, and those orders remain in place tonight for all of Fish Creek Road from I-90 to the Mineral County-Missoula County border. Essentially the closure includes all of the Ninemile Ranger District south of the freeway. 

A Type 2 Incident Management Team took over the fire Friday evening, in advance of a cold front sweeping through the region that saw some of the higher elevation wind gusts approaching 60-miles per hour. A Type 1 hot shot crew, 2-engines, 2-watertenders and 2-aircraft are trying to protect structures in the valley. 

Crews are hoping to be able to use more helicopter water drops on the fire Sunday if smoke begins to lift as forecast. 

Saturday
Aug222015

Fire in Swan Range now largest in the state

Map from Inciweb.com(CONDON)- A group of fires burning in the Swan Range since being ignited by a passing lightning storm earlier this month grew in dry and windy conditions Friday to become the largest fires in the state. 

The Bear Creek Fires are burning in the mountains just northwest of Condon in the Spotted Bear Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest. 

The largest of the blazes, the Bear Creek Fire now tops 18,000 acres, burning with moderate fire behavior even in the cooler weather Saturday, spreading to the east toward Meadow Mountain. 

Another combined fire, being called the Trail Creek Fire, now measures 9,000 acres near the Spotted Bear River Road. Trails, roads and a backcountry air strip have all been closed, with firefighters wrapping some backcountry structures to protect them from the flames. 

Saturday
Aug222015

Cooler weather, light winds help with Glacier fires

Jonathan Moor photo (ESSEX)- Cooler weather and minimal winds were a big help Saturday, helping keep some of the new fire activity on a series of blazes burning along the southern edge of Glacier National Park. 

The fires, called the Thompson-Divide Complex, consists of three fires. Those include the Thompson Fire burning in the Nyack backcountry, and the Sheep, Granite and Spruce fires burning closer to Essex. 

The Sheep Fire has burned over 4-hundred acres and has been the biggest concern the past few days because of its proximity to Essex, with more than 200-structures, including the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail line at risk. 

The Granite Fire west of Marias Pass has burned just under 200-acres south of U.S. 2 in the Great Bear Wilderness. The Thompson Fire has burned over 14,000 acres, but crews have made good progress with mop-up operations around the fire perimeter and the blaze is set to go into monitoring status. The Spruce Fire has burned just 3-acres. 

Residents in Essex remain on evacuation alert, however U.S. 2 was re-opened through the Sheep Creek fire scene with pilot cars guiding traffic. A community meeting is set for at 8 p.m. Sunday evening at the Izaak Walton Inn. 

Friday
Aug212015

Fire weather rakes across Western Montana

(MISSOULA)- It's the kind of weather which brings fear to the heart of long-time Montanans; the arrival of a strong August cold front during one of the worst fire seasons in years. 

The cold front pushed across the western half of the state Friday, prompting the National Weather Service to issue Red Flag Warnings from Libby to Dillon and east to the HiLine. Winds gusting between 20 and 40 miles per hour, combined with low humidities and the extreme drought conditions raised fears of new fire starts.

The one thing that was playing into our favor was that temperatures stayed relatively low, only reaching into the mid and upper 70s in a few locations. 

And once the cold front passed, temperatures started to plunge. NWS reports temperatures dropping by as much as 20-degrees across Northwest Montana during the late afternoon and early evening. A few thunderstorms were being generated, but without the intensity of a similar cold front last Friday, when dozens of lightning strikes started storms across the region. 

In the high country of Glacier National Park, temperatures had fallen into the low 30s, with periods of snow showers reported for a time Friday evening. 

Red Flag Warnings were set to expire Friday night. However the cold weather may still have an impact this weekend. NWS had issued a Frost Advisory with forecast temperatures expected to drop into the low 30s, even in some of the lower valleys Sunday morning. 

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