DNRC: 7 Fires Reported in the Past 24 Hours Statewide.
As the 2023 Wildfire season picks up, firefighters are wasting no time in tackling each new blaze. On this morning's Law Enforcement report, Teton County Undersheriff Clint Ellsworth reported that the Choteau Volunteer Fire Department was called out twice over the past couple of days to deal with wildland fires, and made quick work of both.
The DNRC website notes seven new wildfires have been reported in the past 24 hours, and there are now 41 fires burning across the state. Most are well under 10 acres, but there is a 200-acre fire that started last evening at War Horse Lake, northeast of Winnett in Petroleum County.
Here's the latest information on the four largest fires burning in the state:
HAY DRAW FIRE
A 3500-acre fire is burning on mostly grassland southeast of Broadus in Powder River County. Details are hard to come by, but the DNRC's wildfire map indicated the fire was discovered late Tuesday morning, and is 30% contained.
The 4390-acre fire continues to show moderate activity, and will move along the active fire edges through the heavy dead and down surface vegetation. Torching and spotting are possible in the subalpine fir and lodgepole pine.
Crews worked to contain the spot fires east of Forest Road 646 (Colt/Uhler Road) on the east side of the fire. On the south side, crews looked for opportunities to work on direct fire line along the West Fork of the Clearwater River. The fire's edge is currently held up just north of the river. On the north side, crews and equipment started working to reduce vegetation along Forest Road 906 (Beaver Creek Road) and look for access routes and opportunities to work on fire line construction in locations that have a high probability of success to contain the fire.
The Structure Protection group has completed numerous structure assessments and continued preparation work in the areas along Highway 83 and around the lakes south and east of the fire. Structure protection efforts include cutting vegetation to create defensible space and setting up pumps, hoses, and sprinklers. Helicopters were effectively used throughout the day to drop water and cool hots spots on the fire, and have been very effective when needed.
EVACUATIONS AND CLOSURES
- -Residents on Beaver Creek Road (near the summit) are under an Evacuation Warning.
- -Mile marker 31 (Beaver Creek Road at the intersection of Hwy 83) south towards Seeley Lake to mile marker 27, and including residences in Rovero Flats, are under an Evacuation Order.
- -Residences beginning at mile marker 27, south end of Rovero Flats, to mile marker 25.5 (the intersection of the West Fork of the Clearwater Road and Hwy 83) are under an Evacuation Warning.
- -Residences on the north and south ends of Lake Inez are under an Evacuation Warning. The east side of Lake Inez, along Hwy 83, is not under any Warning or Order.
For evolving Evacuations and Warnings please visit the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
The Lolo and Flathead National Forests have closed several forest roads, areas, and campgrounds near the fire area for public safety, including:
- -Rainy Lake Campground
- -Alva Lake Campground
- -Lakeside Campground
- -Lake Inez Campground
BOWLES CREEK FIRE
Fire Danger has been elevated to VERY HIGH on both the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and and Bitterroot National Forest.
The 1633-acre Bowles Creek Fire continues to back and flank downslope in in heavy timber with moderate to heavy dead and downed fuels. This is producing single and group tree torching. Firefighting crews and resources from both Forests continue to work both sides of the fire for “indirect” (away from the active fire edge) firelines. Previous fire lines and dozer lines used in the 2022 Hog Trough fire have provided success in planning objectives. On the west side, hand crews are constructing a fuel break adjacent to Daly Creek Road. On the east side, crews will be working to the south from the Bowles Creek Road (5071 Road) to the 313 Trail.
BIG KNIFE FIRE
The Big Knife Fire, 5 mile southeast of Arlee, has grown slightly over the past 24 hours, and is 148 acres as of this morning, burning in steep, rugged terrain. Aircraft are being used the drop retardant to help slow the fire's spread.
CSKT fire officials note there are no evacuations at this time and that no structures are threatened.
A community meeting will be held this evening at 7:00pm at the Arlee Community Center.