Fires along Rocky Mountain Front continue to grow - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Fires along Rocky Mountain Front continue to grow

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Officials with the Rocky Mountain Ranger District provided updated information on Tuesday afternoon about several fires burning in western Pondera and Teton counties.

  • Crucifixion Creek Fire: 10,080 acres
  • Strawberry Fire: 11,325
  • Scalp Fire: 17,012
  • Dolly Varden Fire: 424 acres

Lightning is believed to the cause of all four fires.

Crucifixion Creek Fire: According to Inciweb, the crew at Badger Cabin brings integral fire monitoring insight to fire activity. There was active burning to the west onto Goat Mountain and there was some activity on the northwestern and southwestern edges as well. Overall, fire activity was moderate in comparison to what occurred with the Strawberry Creek and Scalp fires. The Badger crew’s cabin area reinforcement is ongoing.

Strawberry Fire: According to Inciweb, the fire made a significant wind-driven run to east in the early hours on Monday and is currently up to the west side of Mount Richmond, about 1 miles from Swift Reservoir. Engines and heavy equipment are enroute to Swift Dam and additional resources are expected. With the transfer of command to the Type 3 team on 9/8, the strategy has shifted from monitoring to a confine and contain strategy. An area closure is in effect for public safety on the Flathead and Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forests. Strawberry Fire was actively backing off the ridge of the northern finger of the fire. Strawberry Fire continues to creep along the stream bottom on both sides of Trail #161 and along the bottom of East Fork Strawberry Creek. Smoke from the Strawberry Fire is visible from the Rocky Mountain Front.

Scalp Fire: According to Inciweb, the fire continues backing in Park Creek in the 2007 Fool Creek Fire perimeter. The fire continues to back down toward Open Creek with some spotting north of Seven-up Creek. Structure protection is in place at Gooseberry Cabin and crews continue to monitor the fire. Structure protection at Wrong Creek on the Helena-Lewis and Clark is ongoing.

There are two public meetings scheduled for residents to get updates on the situation:

  • Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 at 6pm at the Heart Butte School-Multi-Purpose Room
  • Thursday, September 14th, 2017 at 6pm at the Dupuyer Community Hall

The Pondera County Sheriff's Office initiated mandatory evacuations for several residents between Swift Dam and the Karl Rappold Ranch, the Birch Creek Area, and Seven Mile Lane. The increased fire activity prompted the Sheriff to initiate evacuations for four to five ranch owners in the vicinity of Swift Reservoir and the dam keeper's residence.

A pre-evacuation notice was issued for homes farther east along Swift Dam Road toward Dupuyer. A pre-evacuation notice tells property owners to be ready to leave on short notice. Pre-evacuation calls are also being made to people living in Dupuyer, as the fire begins to spread in the directions.

They ask that anyone who evacuates their property to tie a ribbon or colored twine on their fence posts to let responders know you have left the property.

A shelter has been opened at the Fireman's Pavilliion at Lake Frances near Valier.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has closed Lake Frances near Valier while crews use lake water to fight nearby fires. FWP says that the closure applies to all recreation, including boating, swimming, wading, and fishing.

The closure is to ensure public safety so that aircraft crews can safely operate as they dip water from the lake.  The closure will be in place until fire crews no longer need to use the lake for suppression efforts.

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