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Approaching Thunderstorms Concern Alice Creek Firefighters 9-8-17 10:30am

The Alice Creek Fire gained nearly 1,000 acres yesterday, mostly in the Tom’s Gulch/Silver Lake area. It is now 23,427 acres and 0% contained.

AUGUSTA, MT – Fire behavior is expected to increase today as a result of having nearly no moisture in the air and high temperatures. The Incident Meteorologists is forecasting a light increase in late afternoon and evening thunder clouds beginning around 4 p.m. today. Rain is not expected; however, lightning is a concern for firefighters. This system will be problematic for firefighters as it may produce strong and erratic winds that may reach to 20-30 mph. A Fire Weather Watch is in effect for Saturday afternoon and night for dry thunderstorms ahead of a dry cold front. Meteorologists anticipate this affecting the fire area late Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning.

 

A feller-buncher cuts and removes trees, building a fire line near Bedrock Creek Road. 9-8-17 (USFS Photo)
A feller-buncher cuts and removes trees, building a fire line near Bedrock Creek Road. 9-8-17 (USFS Photo)

While there is no change in evacuation notices, residents near Silver King Lake took notice of the fire cresting the ridge above the Lake. Engines and hand crews moved into the area in preparation for it moving down the ridge, but a recently constructed containment line is holding it on the ridge. Overnight, firefighters contained a few small spot fires in the area and will again be ready to respond today if the fire attempts to move down the ridge today.

Dozers, feller bunchers (“clippers”), water tenders and a handcrew are constructing containment line along Green Mountain to Alice Creek Road. This work is progressing. As they work, they are taking structure protection precautions in Copper Creek. Their goal is to keep the fire confined to Wildcat Gulch from Alice Creek Trail Head to Alice Mountain Ridge. Resource advisors are assisting them with this work to minimize disturbance to cultural resources.

A water tender stands guard as a feller-buncher clears trees to build a fire line. 9-6-17 (USFS Photo)
A water tender stands guard as a feller-buncher clears trees to build a fire line. 9-6-17 (USFS Photo)

The northern tip of the fire in East Falls Creek (four miles south of Dearborn Canyon) is not advancing. Firefighters will begin setting up pumps and hoses today to push water up the hillside to reinforce containment line they constructed yesterday. This will speed containment efforts and help keep the fire from creeping north into the canyon. The fire is holding four miles southeast of Dearborn Canyon.

Suppression efforts in the Alice Creek area will focus on holding the fire on the ridgetops, dozer lines and preexisting roads using heavy equipment, air support and engines. Personnel on Falls Creek Ridge will continue to use dozers to secure and construct line along the ridgeline using a direct strategy whenever possible. Aviation resources will be utilized to support firefighters.

Since the fire started on July 22, airtankers have dropped 250,035 gallons of retardant on the fire. Since August 28th when Great Basin Team 5 took command of the fire, 114,788 gallons of retardant have been dropped. Yesterday alone, eight loads of retardant were dropped.

Great Basin Team 5 is nearing the end of its two-week assignment. Team members now are focusing on managing the fire while also preparing plans that will smoothly transfer command to the next incident management team, Great Basin Team 2, commanded by Kim Martin. The incoming Team will shadow Team 5 on Saturday and will take command of the fire Sunday morning.

Resources: Personnel: 258 Crews: 4 Engines: 16 Water Tenders: 8 Skidgens: 3 Dozers: 6 Helicopters: 3

Evacuations: Elk Meadows/Evergreen subdivisions along with all residents along Highway 200, between mile-marker 93 through 97, are under a mandatory evacuation notice. Landers Fork, Elk Trail Park and Alice Creek community areas are under a pre-evacuation notice.

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