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

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 12, 2016

Last year's Copper King fire burned more than 27,000 acres outside Thompson Falls
Inciweb
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The interior of the Copper King Fire outside of Thompson Falls on August 9, 2016

The latest on wildfires around western Montana.

Last Update 4:05 p.m. 08/12/16

One of the three fires burning in Yellowstone National Park has grown significantly in the last 24 hours. The Maple Fire, burning 8 miles northeast of West Yellowstone, jumped to nearly 300 acres today, up from yesterday’s ten. That fire is moving in a northeasterly direction. Portions of the Gneiss Creek trail are closed due to the fire.

The Fawn Fire, west of Fawn Pass, experienced minimal growth, and is now 936 acres. Fire Information Officer Mike Johnson:

"All park roads and all park areas are open, so these two fires that are burning right now are not impacting any visitors coming to the park."

The Pocket Fire, five miles south southeast of Old Faithful, is now 100 percent contained. Crews hope to have it fully controlled by tomorrow.

Visitors and communities north and west of the park should expect varying levels of smoke from these fires.

The Copper King Fire, burning east of Thompson Falls, is now 20 percent contained. A smaller Type three Incident Management team will take over command tomorrow. They’ll continue working to improve fire lines and fuel breaks on the fire’s perimeter, ahead of an expected increase in temperature over the weekend.

Over in Hamilton, The American Red Cross will host a Disaster Relief Center for those affected by the Roaring Lion Fire, burning southwest of town. It will take place today until 7:00 p.m., and tomorrow from 10;00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The center will be at 1285 North 1st St. in Hamilton.

Fire officials warn that warmer temperatures may bring an increase in fire behavior in densely vegetated areas that didn’t get much recent moisture.

Update: 9:45 a.m. 08/12/16

The Copper King Fire burning eight miles outside of Thompson Falls and one mile north of Highway 1 has reached 1,465 acres and 20 percent containment.

Prior to today, the fire has been fought by a Type 2 Incident Management Team. Today, those crews will transition out and a smaller Type 3 Incident Management Team will take over.

Fire activity has remained low despite temperatures rising since yesterday. Crews are focused on removing potential fuel from the area, including green vegetation that hasn't burned yet. The 305 personnel currently fighting the fire are cautious about rising temperatures and lower humidity over the next few days.

Today, the American Red Cross will be holding a disaster resource center for those impacted by the Roaring Lion Fire. The center will be open from 4:00 p.m - 7:00 p.m today and from 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. tomorrow. Caseworkers at the center will be able to help those who have had property lost or damaged navigate insurance, paperwork, etc. It will be located at 1285 North 1st St. in Hamilton.

The 8,274 acre fire has 206 personnel currently fighting the fire. It is 65 percent contained.

Crews are expecting fire activity to increased as seasonal temperatures become warmer and drier. There may be large pockets of unburned fuel beneath the tree canopy that still have potential to catch and spread. Priority is currently on building defensive hand lines and securing the perimeters to the east and south.

As of yesterday afternoon, the 8 acre Lost Trail Fire in the Bitterroot National Forest is 80 percent contained. Spokesperson Todd McKay said that there are still hot spots burning within the perimeter, but that the fire is largely restricted by a defensive line.

Two lighting-strike fires are burning in Yellowstone National Park. The Maple Fire and the Pocket Fire are under full suppression strategy.

The Fawn Fire in Yellowstone is now measured at 936 acres. It currently does not pose any threat to trails, facilities or roads, and is being monitored by aerial equipment.

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