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Lightning Starts Another Fire Near Lincoln – Aug 28, 2012

Another lightning-caused for has been reported in the northern Rocky Mountains, bringing to eight the number of fires we’re keeping a smoke-irritated eye on.  The Stonewall Fire is listed at 20 acres, and is burning north of Lincoln. Here are the latest updates from firefighting officials:

Elbow Pass Complex   Portions of the western perimeter continue to be active. In the Bar Creek area (Dry Fork Blackfoot) the fire continues to work its way to the south and east along the south side of the Continental Divide. In the Rapid Creek area, active fire spread was observed with single and group tree torching with short uphill run below Observation Pass. There was minimal activity in the So. Fork Sun and Green Fork areas yesterday.  One helicopter assigned to Elbow Pass Complex assisted Lincoln RD in initial attack. 

A RED FLAD WARNING has been issued for today through Wednesday evening. The combination of warm temperatures, gusty southwest  winds and low relative humidity create critical fire conditions.  Precipitation last night was scattered in the fire area creating a variety of fuels conditions.  Expect active fire where there is still heat.  Widespread single and group tree torching and limited crown runs could occur where heat, fuels, slopes and wind align.  Fire managers will monitor spread and fire behavior. Several lightning tracks ran through the area last night; fire managers are prepared to provide initial attack as needed.  Firefighters remain in the Danaher and Cabin areas monitoring the fire and to provide structure protection if needed.  Patrol and Prairie Reef lookouts are staffed today. 

Wedge Creek Fire Seeley Lake Ranger District, Lolo National Forest, 1020 acres. .   This fire is burning in steep terrain, heavy timber and around rock outcroppings in a remote un-roaded area about two miles south of the Scapegoat Wilderness boundary. The fire is producing a smoke column visible from highway 200. The weather pattern for Tuesday and Wednesday is calling for a dry cold frontal passage that will bring strong gusty southwest winds and low relative humidity. This cold front passage will increase fire activity and may produce significant smoke column development as more of the fire perimeter will become active; however winds will be out of the southwest direction and will push the fire to the north east into the previously burned Conger Fire area that occurred in 2007. That fire scar area has very sparse vegetation and will not result in any significant spread if any fire is to get established in that area. No water or retardant drops were used yesterday. Due to heavy fuel loadings with intermittent bug-killed trees, steep slopes and inaccessible terrain it is unsafe to have crews on the ground. Generally, the fire has burned approximately 100 acres daily since it was discovered. At this time, actions will be to continue to engage the fire in a way that will not place firefighters in danger. No private structures or property are currently threatened by the fire.

Today’s Plan: The management of this incident will continue as it has with a daily helicopter reconnaissance flight observing the fire. New GPS perimeter data will be taken only if significant fire growth occurs.  Actions will continue to engage the fire in a way that will not place firefighters in danger and utilize aircraft to observe and engage the fire as necessary.

 East Fork Fire   Lincoln Ranger District, Helena National Forest, 20 acres.  Due to the southeasterly winds that reached the fire early yesterday, the fire spread to about 20 acres in size along the ridgetop. Once the wind direction changed, however, there was minimal movement the remainder of the day. There remains active fire behavior with surface burning and some isolated tree torching, all of which is still within the boundary of the Scapegoat Wilderness in contiguous sub-alpine fir and dense, dead timber stands. The strategy remains to safely manage this fire for suppression within the Wilderness boundary, primarily containing the southern flank and preventing further spread to the south.

Today fire personnel will continue to monitor the fire activity, but due to safety purposes there will not be any direct attack on the fireline. Conditions will become hotter and drier this week around the fire area. Temperatures will increase up the lower 80s with relative humidity levels remaining low at 15-22% and gusty, southwesterly winds up to 15 mph. Isolated thunderstorms are expected to move through the area later this afternoon and evening, which will be accompanied by stronger winds and minimal moisture.Safety is the #1 priority for all incidents. Due to the many safety concerns—which include a lack of escape routes, no nearby accessible safety zone, predicted weather conditions, steep terrain, dense, heavy timber and snags in and around the fire area, and active fire behavior—the decision was made that no firefighters will be placed on the fireline at this time.

Stonewall Fire  Lincoln Ranger District, Helena National Forest, 20 acres. The Stonewall Fire is actively burning about a mile south of the Stonewall Lookout. The fire was ignited by lightning from a thunderstorm that came through the area at about 3 p.m. on Monday. The fire is actively burning in heavy timber, with some spotting, which has created two distinctive smoke columns that are visible from the town of Lincoln. Air resources are supporting suppression efforts while seven firefighters are being flown into the fire to begin direct attack on the fire. Two additional fire crews have been ordered to assist with full suppression activities.   

A public meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 28 at 5 p.m. at Hooper’s Park in Lincoln to discuss both the Stonewall and East Fork Fires.  

 Prisoner Lake Fire   Spotted Bear Ranger District, Flathead National Forest -. Last update was 8-16-12, no further updates until conditions and/or fire behavior significantly changes.   

Falls Point Fire   Seeley Lake Ranger District, Lolo National Forest, 203 Acres –As of August 16th the Falls Point Fire has been added to the Elbow Pass Complex.

 Meadow Creek Fire 8/23/12 was the final update for this fire;  no further updates unless fire conditions change.

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