Alice Creek Fire Update – Aug. 28, 2017 1:00pm
There is a community meeting today at 7 p.m. at the Augusta Youth Center.
AUGUSTA, MT - The Alice Creek fire is burning near the Continental Divide in the Alice Creek Drainage, Falls Creek Drainage, Red Mountain and Lewis and Clark Pass areas. Given the steep topography and abundant standing dead trees, firefighters are taking advantage of ridges, areas where the timber transitions to grass and other natural barriers to stop the fire’s growth.
EVACUATIONS/ PRE-EVACUATIONS: Lewis and Clark County Sheriff issued mandatory evacuations for residences in the Elk Meadows (Evergreen) subdivision and to ranches on Road 434/435 (north of Highway 200). A Pre-evacuation notice was given to residences located near Elk Meadows subdivision (about mile-marker 93) along Hwy 200 up to mile-marker 98. A Red Cross shelter is open in Helena at First Assembly of God Church (2210 Dodge Ave.).
Firefighters are taking proactive measures to protect community homes and infrastructure in the Elk Meadows/Evergreen Subdivision while implementing actions to keep the fire on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. Due to inaccessible terrain and standing dead trees, firefighters are using retardant and water to slow the fire’s growth. Resource advisors are working with firefighters to help them take actions that prevent aquatic species from being transported across the Continental Divide and reduce wildland fire impacts, especially in the Alice Creek Historical District which includes the Road to the Buffalo and the Lewis and Clark Trail.
A transfer of command from the local districts to an Incident Management Team (Great Basin Team 5), led by Russ Bird, took place this morning. This management team brings with it additional resources and expertise to assist with managing the fire. Firefighters are building on the successful work local firefighters have so far accomplished. This includes enforcing a containment line along the Wildcat Ridge, located along the fire’s south and southwestern flanks. They are also removing downed logs and widening the Alice Creek Trail that is being used as a containment line for the southeast flank.
Structure protection engines are assessing structures and developing protection plans for the Elk Meadows/Evergreen Subdivision Meadow area, located along the fire’s eastern flank where evacuation notices have been issued for approximately 13 residential homes and ranches.
The Continental Divide is a natural barrier along the fire’s northern flank. On Friday, August 25, the fire crossed the Divide, but is showing very little activity. This area is inaccessible to firefighters and will be monitored by air. Along the fire’s western flank, the fire entered the Falls Creek Drainage over the weekend. Aircraft dropped retardant and water to slow the fire’s growth. This area is also inaccessible to firefighters and will be monitored by air. If necessary, additional aircraft will be used to keep the fire growth minimal.
Yesterday, the fire grew an additional 1,419 acres, bringing the total fire size to 5,266 acres. Due to the significant fire growth that occurred the past three days, over 4,000 acres, the containment of the fire is now 0%.
Gusty wind with hot and dry conditions will prevail through the week. This environment promotes aggressive fire behavior and growth that is prolonging the burning through the midnight hours.
ROAD CLOSURES: Lewis and Clark Co. Sheriff officers are staffing roads blocks located at Elk Meadows driveway, the intersection of Hwy. 200 and Hwy. 434 and the intersection of Flat creek Rd and Hwy. 434 to prevent unnecessary traffic from entering the fire area.
TRAIL & AREA CLOSURES: Due to the fire activity, an area closure is in-place that affects multiple trails and roads. A trail re-route is established for hikers along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. A map of the area closure is posted HERE.