Posted: Aug 15, 2012 7:22 AM by Tara Oster - KPAX News
Updated: Aug 15, 2012 7:25 AM
BIG ARM- Firefighters had to work against 20 mile per hour winds on Tuesday as they battled a more than 2,000 acre wildfire burning in the Hot Springs and Polson area.
Crews are using lots of resources to protect homes as they try to contain the West Garceau Fire. But, the quick spread of the blaze caused obvious concern for the nearby homes sitting in the valley on Tuesday.
"There's quite a few dwellings down here; a lot of ranchers and stuff - so there's probably five to seven homes down there," explained Fire Prevention Technician Devlin Lafrombois.
(photo courtesy Dustin Burckhard)
Three homes were evacuated on Tuesday in the Irvine Flats area. but those residences were not damaged, and fire crews will continue to work to protect all of the homes.
Fire officials say the fire burned quickly through the grass and made its way into some of the timber, sending smoke and flames into the air. The fire started Monday evening outside of Hot Springs, but jumped a ridge and spread thanks to really dry grass and wind.
Helicopters dropped water on the fire and fire crews used bulldozers to build fire lines with Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Fire Division officials telling us they also used planes to drop a gell-like retardant in front of the spread of the fire.
"They were trying to head off the head of the fire, put lines out there because no matter if it dries; it still burns up to it and it will still put it out," Lafrombois said.
Both the Polson and Hot Springs fire departments responded to the West Garceau Fire, as did the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Division of Fire. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation, although initial reports indicated some farm machinery may have sparked the blaze.
Some evacuated residents spent time at the Big Arm Fire Department and officials blocked off roads leading into Hot Springs on Tuesday evening.