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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Observation Firefighters Hold Line Despite Winds


The U.S. Forest Service says that yesterday, crews were able to hold the fire line on the Observation Fire burning on about 1,400 acres 10 miles southwest of Hamilton, "even though lines were tested by strong winds for the past two days."

The agency reported heavy smoke yesterday, "due to the fire actively burning in the Hayes Creek bowl within the interior of the fire."

Heavy equipment continued to build contingency line from Camas Creek trail to the top of the ridge. Crews continue to mop up along the southwestern and southeastern flanks of the fire.

A helispot, a spike camp and a safety zone were established by a rappel crew.

Today the Forest Service says, "heavy equipment crews will continue work on a contingency line down the Camas Creek Ridge. Aircraft will work on inaccessible terrain in the northern section of the fire. With lower wind speeds expected for today, torching and spotting may continue in the Hayes Creek bowl but will be more moderate. Engines will continue tobe present in the community familiarizing themselves with structures and roads."

Weather today is expected to continue to be dry with temperatures staying in the low 70s with around 20 percent humidity. Winds are expected to decrease speed today.

Stage I evacuation is in effect for 203 residences

Area closure is still in effect for the Lost Horse drainage from the junction of Lost Horse Creek Road and Lick Creek Road west to the Idaho-Montana border, including Twin Lakes, Schumaker Campground and Bear Creek Pass Trailhead, and from Lake Como north to Camas Creek.  Lake Como is open. 

In Lincoln County,  The Elk Trail Loop Fire that erupted yesterday and burned approximatly 10 acres of private land is currently being investigated, with Lewis and Clark County leading the probe. 

The fire, reported at about 3pm yesterday, prompted a brief evacuation order and the closure of Cooper Creek Road. 

Multiple engines are working the fire along with a local government water tender, one piece of heavy equipment, a twenty person hand crew and various overhead. No aircraft are currently committed to the fire.  However, three aircraft are available in the Lincoln-area if needed.

Authorities are asking the public to please be aware of fire traffic entering and exiting Copper Creek Road at Highway 200.

Credit InciWeb
A Montana DNRC helicopter picks up water to drop on the Elk Trail Loop fire.

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