Saturday, November 28, 2020

Magpie Rock Fire grows, Horseshoe 60% contained

Daily Inter Lake | July 31, 2020 3:52 PM

It was a mixed bag of news for two wildfires burning on tribal land in Northwest Montana.

According to Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribe’s C.T. Camel, the 3,100-acre Magpie Rock fire in Sanders County continued to grow with high temperatures and low humidity.

On Thursday firefighters strengthened and extended fire lines on the northeast flanks of the fire. The fire continues to consume small pockets of unburned trees and vegetation inside the fire’s perimeter. This fire behavior, which accounts for the smoke visible from nearby areas, poses a continued threat to the fire’s perimeter.

Aircraft continued to play a critical role in firefighting efforts on Thursday due to steep and inaccessible terrain. Helicopters dropped water to cool hot spots, slowing the fire’s growth and providing safer conditions for firefighters constructing fire line.

Friday, firefighters planned to extend fire lines on the east side of the fire to prevent the fire from moving farther toward Revais Creek drainage. Firefighters will construct line with hand tools and saws, assisted by heavy equipment.

A burnout operation was planned for Division Bravo once the containment lines were established. Crews planned to widen and improve fire lines on the south/southeast side of the fire, where the objective remains to keep the fire from moving east toward Revais Creek.

Conditions will remain hot and dry with temperatures ranging from the high 80s to low 90s. Relative humidity is expected to be 13 to 18% with winds variable at 1 to 3 mph with gusts from the northwest up to 20 mph on ridgetops.

Camel said 305 personnel are now assigned to the Magpie Rock Fire. In addition to limiting the fire’s spread, firefighters are protecting values at risk where they can do so safely and effectively.

These values include watersheds, sensitive cultural and natural resources, private inholdings and local communities, air quality and recreation areas.

There are no evacuation notices or threatened structures currently.

For the Horseshoe Fire in Lake County, Camel said things are looking good as fire crews have achieved 60% containment on the 140-acre blaze.

Fire crews did some work Wednesday night when winds decreased and temperatures cooled. About four dozen personnel are still assigned to the fire and helicopters dumped water on the fire Thursday.

Most of the fire is burning on the east side of the Flathead River with a little bit on the west side, Camel said.

The fire began on the west side when some people failed to completely extinguish a camp fire.

“It looked like they put some water on it, but it wasn’t enough,” Camel said. “We ask people to be very careful with camp fires and any use of fire because the conditions are so favorable for fires to start easily.”

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures are expected to range between the upper 80s and 100 across the region through Monday. A brief moderation is expected Tuesday and Wednesday with slightly cooler temperatures.