Spotted Eagle Fire Update 8-31-15 Noon
More than a hundred local volunteer firefighters and the Montana National Guard are working with Blackfeet fire crews and a federal HotShots team to protect homes along the Rocky Mountain Front from the Spotted Eagle Eagle Fire, which is burning in timber and grassland on the southwest corner of the Blackfeet Reservation and in western Pondera County.
Yesterday: Fire managers scouted existing roads within the National Forest to serve as future containment fireline for the Moose Ridge and Sheep Mountain fires. The Spotted Eagle Fire spread rapidly to the east near Swift Reservoir pushed by strong gusts up to 40 mph, and it now covers 50,917 acres. No fire was reported east of the reservoir itself. Crews continued to monitor sprinklers and other protection in Heart Butte and along Birch Creek. No additional burnout operations were conducted due to high winds.
Today: Additional resources will arrive for the Spotted Eagle Fire including smokejumpers, hotshots, engines, and additional helicopters. All fires will experience another day of high winds with gusts up to 40 mph. These west and southwest winds may continue to push fire spread to the east and create near critical fire weather conditions. However, fire managers do not anticipate rapid fire growth in areas of primarily shorter grass. Forested areas of timber and heavy grass will continue to actively burn with torching likely in some areas.
Evacuations: Approximately 175 people have been evacuated from the Heart Butte community. Pre-evacuation notices have been given to residents of the Birch Creek area near Swift Reservoir.
Community Meetings: A community meeting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday in Choteau; time and place have not yet been decided.
Closures: Area closures are now effective for two large areas of the National Forest. The Badger-Two Medicine area is closed south of Benson Creek, Mt. Pablo, and Mettler Coulee, extending south through the Birch Creek drainage to the West Fk Teton and east through Walling Reef. The other closure area is in the Bob Marshall Wilderness from Lick Creek, Gates Park and Headquarters Pass, south to the W Fk Sun River and Renshaw Lake. This closure extends east to Arsenic Mountain and Allan Mountain and to the NF boundary in the Deep Creek area. Trail and road closures in the Benchmark and Straight Creek area have been lifted.