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

Montana Wildfire Update For August 13, 2021

Montana Wildfire News

The roughly 166,000-acre Richard Spring Fire burning south of Colstrip across the Northern Cheyenne reservation is 0% contained as of Friday afternoon.

Lame Deer, Muddy Cluster and Rosebud Cut Across are under full evacuation, and pre-evacuation notices were issued for Rosebud Creek, from Greenleaf Creek to Cherry Creek, and Lame Deer Divide Road.

The Rosebud County Fire Warden and Sheriff changed the status for Ashland from full evacuation to evacuation alert. Residents should be prepared to leave if necessary.

There are evacuation centers in the Northern Cheyenne Tribal School in Busby and the Multi-Purpose Building in Crow Agency. The Colstrip Saddle Club is offering shelter to horses.

Highway 212 is closed between Broadus and Crow Agency to non-residents. Highway 39 is currently open, but this could change at any time due to potential for changing conditions.

Goose Fire

Updated August 11, 4:09 p.m.

Location: 32 miles SSE of Ennis, MT near Hoodoo Pass

Size: 7,522 Acres

Containment: 90%

Evacuation orders and warnings : 

Major closures: As of August 7 - https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd938376.pdf

Conditions: A continued warming and drying trend over the next two to three days could increase the amount of visible smoke.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7618/

Hay Creek

Updated August 13, 4:16pm

Location: Approximately 4 miles west of Polebridge, Montana

Size: 2,894 acres

Containment: 30% containment

Evacuation Orders and Warnings: 

Evacuation Warnings remain in effect. See details at https://go.usa.gov/xFjcA and Current Fire Information - Glacier National Park.

The Evacuation Warning area includes the following

  • Moose Creek Road - All residents with driveway access from Moose Creek Road
  • Red Meadow Road - All residents with driveway access from Red Meadow Road
  • North Fork Road - All residents on both sides of the North Fork Road between Moose Creek Road and Home Ranch Bottoms.
  • Polebridge Loop - 655, 700, 720 and 740 Polebridge Drive

Major closures: Various regional closures https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7712/62192/

Conditions: Today will be mostly sunny with temperatures between 74 to 80 degrees in the valley bottoms, with light winds out of the NE, up to 10 to 15 mph on the ridgetops.

Due to fire traffic and road construction in the area, travelers should drive defensively. For the most current fire weather forecast go to https://www.weather.gov/wrh/fire?wfo=mso. For smoke and air quality go to http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/. For current visibility in Glacier NP see https://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm

Cause: Lightning/natural

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7712/63406/

Meetings: 

Destruction: 

Cost: 

Balsinger Fire

Updated August 13, 4:06pm

Location: Balsinger West of Neihart, MT. Ellis Fire 20 miles NW of White Sulphur Springs.

Size: 8,614 acres

Containment: 45%

Evacuation orders and warnings: An evacuation order for Belt Park, issued by the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, remains in place.

There is a pre-evacuation order for the area from the Belt Creek Ranger Station to Monarch and from west of Monarch to the confluence of Pilgrim Creek and Belt Creek.

Major Closures: Various area closures in the Belt Creek-White Sulphur Springs Ranger District and Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. To find out more: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/photos/MTHLF/2021-07-08-2027-Ballsinger-Fire/picts/2021_07_31-13.01.27.990-CDT.pdf

Conditions: The predicted high temperature today is 76°F at 7500 feet elevation. Humidity may be as low as 20%. Winds are weakening and shifting today, leading into dry and hot weather for the weekend with potential gusty winds Saturday and Sunday. Haze and smoke may limit visibility in some areas. Isolated thunderstorms may come into higher elevation areas in the late afternoon. Vegetation is drying out leading to an uptick in fire behavior in some areas. Firefighters are taking precautions in areas where wind direction aligns with unburned slopes, as this can cause fire spread.

Cause: lightning

More fire information: https://www.facebook.com/WoodsCreekBalsingerAmericanForkFires/?fbclid=IwAR070OGqJs6R03yk73xuq1_67R8DNAp7SS0wE_p8mKO3HgNJmiJxf3uiAn4

Meetings:

Trail Creek Fire

Updated August 13, 3:49pm

Location: 20 miles West of Wisdom, MT on HWY 43

Size: 36,380 acres

Containment: 26%

Evacuation orders and warnings: Stage 1 evacuation on Highway 43 from Mile Marker 35 to the County Line at Mile Marker 41.5. This includes the residents of Doolittle Creek Road and North Doolittle Creek Road. Southside of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Dickie Bridge. Westside of the Scenic Byway from the Wisdom Airport to Harriette Lou Road.

All evacuation status removed in Alder Creek drainage and Southside of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Mile Marker 62.

Lemhi County Sheriff has contacted residences in threatened areas on the west side of the Trail Creek Fire in Idaho and placed in “Set” evacuation status. Info: 208-756-8980.

Major closures: Hwy 43 and Pioneer Byway remain open. Motorists are asked to slow down and be on the alert for firefighters, heavy smoke, and downed trees. Please check the Montana DOT Road Report website MDT.MT.gov/travinfomobile for current conditions.

Continental Divide Trail: Closed from Lemhi Pass north to Mussigbrod Creek.

Big Hole National Battlefield is closed until further notice. North and South VanHouten, Miner Lakes, Twin Lakes, May Creek and Divide Bridge Campgrounds are closed.

Forest Closure orders are in effect for all three fires.

Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/bdnf/alerts-notices

Salmon-Challis NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/scnf/alerts-notices

Conditions: TToday’s temperatures will be 75 to 85 with a minimum relative humidity between 18 to 25 percent and Northwest winds at 8 to 10 mph with gusts of 15 to 20mph. Winds are expected to be minimal and predominantly terrain driven.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7634/

Meetings:

Destruction:

Cost:

Christensen Fire

Updated August 13, 12:52pm

Location: 12 miles west of Wise River, located on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

Size: 8,806 acres

Containment: 10%

Evacuation orders and warnings:

Major closures: Forest Closure Orders are in effect for the fire area, see Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest closures here https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/bdnf/alerts-notices

Highway 43 and Pioneer Byway remain open. Motorists are asked to slow down and be on the alert for firefighters, heavy smoke, and downed trees. Please check the Montana DOT Road Report website https://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfomobile for current conditions.

Continental Divide Trail: Closed from Lemhi Pass north to Mussigbrod Creek.

Big Hole National Battlefield is closed until further notice. North and South VanHouten, Miner Lakes, Twin Lakes, May Creek and Divide Bridge Campgrounds are closed.

Forest Closure orders are in effect for all three fires.

Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/bdnf/alerts-notices

Salmon-Challis NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/scnf/alerts-notices

Conditions: Friday will be slightly warmer and drier, with temperatures in the mid to upper 80s and relative humidity values down into the teens. Winds will remain light and terrain driven, with mostly sunny skies.

Cause: Unknown

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7702/

Burnt Peak

Updated August 13, 12:49pm

Location: Approx 9 miles southwest of Troy, MT

Size: 3,583 acres

Containment: 46%

Personnel: 133

Evacuation orders and warnings: Residences in North Fork Keeler Creek are on pre-evacuation notice. All area residents should be ready to leave if evacuations are necessary.

Major Closures: As of August 8, 2021, Closure Order D04-076-S-21 is in effect on the Three Rivers Ranger District for the Callahan Creek Road 427 and Callahan Historic Trail 153. The restriction is in place for public safety due to fire management activities related to the Burnt Peak Fire: www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd938562.pdf

Conditions: High temperatures and light winds are expected today, with winds shifting to southwesterly by afternoon. Smoke will persist in valley bottoms. Fire growth is expected Saturday with a forecasted record high in the triple digits for the lowlands and low humidity values. Some relief should come by Sunday afternoon with cloud cover and somewhat cooler temperatures.

Cause: Lightning

More Fire Information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7696/

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7619/63400/

South Yaak Fire

Updated: August 13, 12:41pm

Location: 4 miles northwest of Troy, Montana.

Size: 10,500

Containment: 47%

Evacuation orders and warnings: Residences on East Side Road, Kilbrennan Lake Road, Seventeen Mile Creek, and Sylvanite are on pre-evacuation notice. All residents should be ready to leave if evacuations are necessary. These area roads are not open to the public.

Major closures: As of August 8, 2021, Closure Order D04-076-S-21 is in effect on the Three Rivers Ranger District for the Callahan Creek Road 427 and Callahan Historic Trail 153. The restriction is in place for public safety due to fire management activities related to the Burnt Peak Fire: www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd938562.pdf

Conditions: High temperatures and light winds are expected today, with winds shifting to southwesterly by afternoon. Smoke will persist in valley bottoms. Fire growth is expected Saturday with a forecasted record high in the triple digits for the lowlands and low humidity values. Some relief should come by Sunday afternoon with cloud cover and somewhat cooler temperatures.

Cause: Lightning

More Fire Information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7696/

Harris Mountain Fire

Updated August 13, 12:36pm

Location: 10 miles southeast of Cascade

Size: 31,591 acres

Containment: 52%

Evacuation orders and warnings: As of August 9, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office rescinded all evacuation orders and pre-evacuation notices related to the Harris Mountain Fire in Cascade County.

Cause: Lightning

Conditions: Partly cloudy with temperatures in the upper 80s with light southwest winds 10-15 mph.

Meetings: A final community meeting was held Friday

More Fire Information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7719/63395/

Boulder 2700

Updated August 13, 12:33pm

Location: In the Mission Mountains east of Flathead Lake, and eight miles east of Polson, MT

Size: 2,072 Acres

Containment: 46%

Evacuation orders and warnings:  Yesterday, areas south of Mahood Lane and Ski Doo Creek, including Finley Point moved to stage 1 (“Ready”)of the “Ready-Set-Go” plan for wildfire evacuations. Residents in this area should remain prepared for any changes in fire activity. Residents between mile markers 9-11 have transitioned to stage 2 (“SET”) and should be prepared to evacuate if the fire activity increases.

Major closures: Highway 35 has reopened to local traffic, with a speed limit of 35 mph from mile markers 6 to 13 for public and firefighter safety. The Montana Department of Transportation will continue to escort local traffic between mile markers 9 to 11 with pilot cars from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

Sign up for Lake County Emergency alerts at: https://signup.hyper-reach.com/hyper_reach/sign_up_page_2/?id=95122

Conditions: Warm and dry conditions will continue with a high near 91 degrees. Winds will be about 5-10 mph from the southwest, with gusts around 15 mph on the ridges. The Haines Index will be 5, or moderate, correlating to the potential for erratic or strong wildfire behavior.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7754/63405/

Meetings:

Destruction:

Cost:

Dry Cabin

Updated August 13, 12:26 pm

Location: 20 miles north of Ovando, MT

Size: 3,060 acres

Containment: 0% containment

Evacuation Orders and Warnings: 

Major closures: For public safety, area closures are in place. Lolo National Forest Dry Fork area: affected closed trails include Dry Fork and upper Dry Fork #31 (all segments) at North Fork Cabin, Whiskey Cutoff #369, Cabin Creek #80, and Dwight Creek #414 and Canyon Creek #16 at the wilderness boundary. The main North Fork Trail #32 is OPEN, but #377 Sarbo Creek and the upper portions of Hobnail Tom #32.2 and Evans Peak #361 are CLOSED.

Flathead National Forest Danaher area: affected closed trails include the Eastside South Fork Trail #126 from junction with Rapid Creek #142 south to boundary with Lolo National Forest, including connecting trails Alloy Creek #265, Calf Creek #277, Spring Creek #144, Bar Creek #140, Limestone Pass #143, Blackfoot Divide #278. Alternate routes include Stadler Pass to Benchmark, Jenny Creek/Youngs Pass to Lodgepole TH, and Youngs Creek via Pyramid Pass to Pyramid TH.

Cause: Lightning

Conditions: Higher temperatures this weekend will likely continue to dry out fuels.

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7660/63404/

West Lolo Complex

Updated August 13, 12:22pm

Location: West Lolo Complex includes the Thorne Creek Fire, near Thompson Falls, MT

Size: 23,734 Acres

Containment: 15%

Evacuation orders and warnings:

Evac Order: all residences in the Ashley and Thompson River zones.

Pre-Evac/Warning: all residences in the Graves NE, Graves SE, and Harlow zones.

85 residents are under evacuation orders.

The color-coded evacuation maps are located on InciWeb and Facebook. The team is coordinating closely with local law enforcement and emergency management officials with the goal of returning residents home as soon as it is safe to do so.

Major closures: 

Conditions: Near critical fire weather expected today. Temperature in the 90’s and humidity levels in the upper teens and 20’s will support active fire behavior today and tomorrow. Winds will remain terrain driven at around 10 m.p.h. A cold front is expected on Sunday bringing cooler temperature and higher humidity levels.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7620/63398/

Meetings:

Destruction:

Cost: 

Granite Pass Complex

Updated August 13, 12:19pm

Location: 35 miles southwest of Missoula

Size: 5,902 acres

Containment: 15%

Evacuation orders and warnings: 

Major closures:

Conditions: The warming and drying trend continues today as a ridge builds over the region bringing warmer temperatures and lower levels of relative humidity. High temperatures in the fire area are forecast to reach the mid to upper 80s today with humidity dropping to the low 20% range. The combination of higher temperatures and warmer weather will combine to create critical fire weather conditions on Sunday into Monday. Next week is forecasted to be cooler and more humid behind the front.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7653/63417/

Meetings: 

Destruction: 

Cost: $9.1 million

Alder Creek Fire

Updated August 13, 12:14pm

Location: About 7 miles west of Wise River in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

Size: 11,999 acres

Containment: 10%

Evacuation orders and warnings: 

Stage 1 evacuation Highway 43 from Mile Marker 35 to the County Line at Mile Marker 41.5. This includes the residents of Doolittle Creek Road and North Doolittle Creek Road.

South side of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Dickie Bridge.

West side of the Scenic Byway from the Wisdom Airport to Harriette Lou Road.

All evacuation orders were removed in Alder Creek drainage and Southside of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Mile Marker 62.

Lemhi County Sheriff has contacted residences in threatened areas on the west side of the Trail Creek Fire in Idaho and placed in “Set” evacuation status. Info: 208-756-8980.

Major closures: Closures for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest here.

Highway 43 and Pioneer Byway remain open. Motorists are asked to slow down and be on the alert for firefighters, heavy smoke, and downed trees. Please check the Montana DOT Road Report website https://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfomobile for current conditions.

Continental Divide Trail: Closed from Lemhi Pass north to Mussigbrod Creek.

Big Hole National Battlefield is closed until further notice.

North and South VanHouten, Miner Lakes, Twin Lakes, May Creek and Divide Bridge Campgrounds are closed.

Forest Closure orders are in effect for all three fires.

Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/bdnf/alerts-notices

Salmon-Challis NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/scnf/alerts-notices

Conditions: Today’s temperatures will be 75 to 85 with a minimum relative humidity between 18 to 25 percent and Northwest winds at 8 to 10 mph with gusts of 15 to 20mph. An evening wind shift from the North and Northeast could affect fire behavior on South-facing slopes. There is a predicted drying trend through the weekend with increasing temperatures and decreasing humidity.

Cause: Unknown

More fire information: https://www.facebook.com/AlderCreekandTrailCreekFires

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7641/

Woods Creek

Updated August 13, 4:20pm

Location: 16 miles NE of Townsend, MT, near Boulder Lakes in the Big Belt Mountains.

Size: 48,806 acres

Containment: 38%

Evacuation orders and warnings: The Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office has lifted evacuation orders connected with the Woods Creek Fire

Conditions: A warming trend begins Friday with light winds, then much warmer with low humidity levels Saturday and Sunday with a westerly breeze increasing each day. There is a slight risk of a thunderstorm Saturday with a slightly higher chance on Sunday.

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7649/

American Fork Fire

Updated August 13, 12:09pm

Acreage: 19,602

Containment: 10%

Start date: July 17, 2021

Cause: Lightning

Personnel: 69

Location: 24 miles southwest of Harlowton, Montana.

Conditions: After a partly cloudy night with excellent humidity recoveries, skies cleared by mid-morning under very light terrain driven winds. Winds became northerly in the afternoon but remained around 10 mph or less with temperatures peaking a few degrees cooler than average and minimum humidity levels generally bottoming at 25 to 30%. A warming trend begins Friday with light winds, then much warmer with low humidity levels Saturday and Sunday with a westerly breeze increasing each day. There is a slight risk of a thunderstorm Saturday with a slightly higher chance on Sunday.

Evacuation and Warnings: The Park County Sheriff’s Office has Shields River Road in pre-evacuation status. Meagher County has done the same with the Smith Creek area. County roads in the area are open. However, there are still closures in the national forests.

More Information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7681/

Black Mountain

Updated August 13, 12:06pm

Location: 13 miles south of Jackson, MT and east of Skinner Lake and Skinner Meadows in both the Dillon and Wisdom Ranger Districts.

Size: 1,042

Containment: 75%

Evacuation orders and warnings: 

Stage 1 evacuation on Highway 43 from Mile Marker 35 to the County Line at Mile Marker 41.5. This includes the residents of Doolittle Creek Road and North Doolittle Creek Road. Southside of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Dickie Bridge. Westside of the Scenic Byway from the Wisdom Airport to Harriette Lou Road.

All evacuation status removed in Alder Creek drainage and Southside of Highway 43 from Alder Creek Road to Mile Marker 62.

Lemhi County Sheriff has contacted residences in threatened areas on the west side of the Trail Creek Fire in Idaho and placed in “Set” evacuation status. Info: 208-756-8980.

Major closures: Hwy 43 and Pioneer Byway remain open. Motorists are asked to slow down and be on the alert for firefighters, heavy smoke, and downed trees. Please check the Montana DOT Road Report website MDT.MT.gov/travinfomobile for current conditions.

-Continental Divide Trail: Closed from Lemhi Pass north to Mussigbrod Creek.

-Big Hole National Battlefield is closed until further notice. North and South VanHouten, Miner Lakes, Twin Lakes, May Creek and Divide Bridge Campgrounds are closed.

-Forest Closure orders are in effect for all three fires.

Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/bdnf/alerts-notices

Salmon-Challis NF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/scnf/alerts-notices

Conditions: Friday will be slightly warmer and drier, with temperatures in the mid to upper 80s and relative humidity values down into the teens. Winds will remain light and terrain driven, with mostly sunny skies.

Cause: Lightning

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7691/

Richard Spring Fire

August 13 12:02pm

Location: Southwest of Colstrip

Size: 170,303 acres

Containment: 0%

Evacuation orders and warnings: According to inciweb, law enforcement agencies have evacuated the Ashland Divide, Rabbit Town, North Tongue River Road, and the St. Labre Indian Academy Campus. The communities of Lame Deer, Ashland, Muddy Cluster, and Rosebud Cut Across are also evacuated. Pre-evacuation notices are in effect for Rosebud Creek from Greenleaf Creek to Cherry Creek.

Major closures: A post on inciweb says highway 212 is currently closed between Ashland and Lame Deer to all non-residents. Highway 39 is currently open, but this could change at any time due to potential for changing conditions.

Conditions: Precipitation occurred overnight in amounts much more significant than predicted. Reports of 0.5" were heard of being observed at private residences in the Lame Deer area. None of the RAWS stations showed amounts to this extent.

Winds were much less 5-10 mph out of the NNE. Primary concern for tomorrow is a shift to a south wind in the first part of the day and shifting to a east wind in the afternoon. In a 24-hour period the wind will shift 270 degrees.

Cause: Lightning/natural

More fire information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7794/

Meetings: There will be a community meeting TONIGHT at 6:00 PM at the Colstrip Middle School Auditorium at 216 Olive Drive in Colstrip. We understand there has been some confusion about the location of this meeting as we worked to secure a location. We apologize for the confusion and hope you can make it to the meeting.

There will be a second community meeting tomorrow evening (Saturday, August 14) at 6:00 PM at the Littlewolf Capital Building at 600 Cheyenne Ave. in Lame Deer.

Destruction:

Cost: