Skip to main content

Sheep Gap

Unit Information

Lolo National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
Missoula, MT 59804

USFS Shield

This incident is no longer being updated.

It has been redirected or merged. Please check incident for the most current information.

Sheep Gap Fire view from plane 8-30, 9:30 amImage options: [ Full Size ]

Location: Highway 200 corridor, near Plains and Thompson Falls, MT

Agency Jurisdiction: Lolo and Kootenai National Forests

Incident Command: Western Montana Type II Incident Management Team, Incident Commander - Rick Connell


Special Message: There have been a few fire rumors circulating around and misinforming area residents. As a reminder, the inciweb site and Highway 200 Complex Facebook page will only post the facts regarding the fires. Please check these sites or give us a call at the phone number above to verify fire updates and reports. In addition, if fire conditions change rapidly we will post regular updates on these websites. If nothing changes then the updates will be less frequent.

Current Status: The blanket of smoke has continued to keep fire activity minimal within the complex over the past four days. The majority of the smoke has come in from Washington and Oregon fires and has created an inversion, allowing heat to escape while shading the fire areas. Firefighters have used this time to continue working on establishing indirect fire lines, shaded fuels breaks, and structure protection lines using hand crews and heavy equipment. The constant layer of heavy smoke has prevented Aircraft from being able to fly. Some fire growth has occurred over the past four days primarily driven by dry fuels and warm temperatures.

Outlook: Smokey and mild weather will continue on Friday providing another day of moderated fire behavior. These conditions will allow firefighters to prepare more line and shaded fuel breaks before a frontal passage that is forecast for Saturday. Once visibility increases, aircraft will again be able to fly and will once again be assisting ground crews. Some additional resources, both equipment and crews have continued to arrive and will be utilized where there is the most need and they have the greatest chance of successful operations. Structure protection and assessment will continue to be the priority for management. The goal is to get as much indirect line and fuels breaks ready before the forecasted wind event on Saturday.

Evacuations: Evacuations remain in place near Sheep Gap Fire from the end of River Road to Arnold Road, at the corner of Section 11. All residents in the Plains, Thompson Falls, and Trout Creek areas should note that conditions are dynamic and will likely change quickly over the next few days. Please have an evacuation plan in place for what you would do in the event of an emergency. Wildfires can grow very quickly and you may receive little to no notice before an evacuation takes place. If you feel concerned for your welfare, don’t wait to be told to leave – self-evacuate.

Closures: Area closures are in place around the immediate fire areas and areas integral to safe fire operations. As hunting season continues, please respect area closures. The Forest Service is working to ensure that closures are kept to a minimum but are large enough for firefighter and public safety. Please see InciWeb and the Forest Service webpages for the latest closure area maps.

Fire Details:

Sheep Gap – 15 % Contained – 11,346 acres: On the Sheep Gap, 97 residences have been notified of mandatory evacuations and an additional 40 have been notified for pre-evacuation warning by the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office. Heavy equipment has been used on the north side and in Swamp Creek in order to develop a shaded fuels break. A dozer line has also been developed as a structure protection line. Firefighters continue to implement control actions and provide structure protection along the contingency lines located north, east, and south of the fire.

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
Date of OriginTuesday August 29th, 2017 approx. 04:15 PM
LocationThe fire is located south of Clark Fork River, East of Thompson Falls, MT
Incident CommanderRick Connell, Western Montana Type 2 Incident Management Team
Incident DescriptionOne Of The Fires Within The Highway 200 Complex
Coordinates47.495 latitude, -115.06 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel51
Size9,860 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained15%
Estimated Containment DateSunday October 15th, 2017 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved

Timber with grasses in the understory

Significant Events

Moderate fire behavior with torching and spotting.


Planned Actions

-Mop up the completed burn outs along dozer line, handline and roads DP106 to H200.

-Implement control actions and provide structure protection along contingency line east of the fire.

-Build contingency line from DP105 southwest along hydrolic divide with Bemisher Creek and the West Fork of Swamp Creek to limit fire spread to the east.

-Provide structure protection north and east side of the fire along River Rd West.

Projected Incident Activity

Sheep Gap has shown long range spotting. Expect fire growth primarily south but also north and east. Structures at risk in the River Road West and Swamp Creek Road areas.


Approximately 510 residences are threatened throughout the Highway 200 Complex. On the Sheep Gap, 97 residences have been notified of mandatory evacuations and an additional 40 have been notified for pre-evacuation warning by the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Friday will be partly cloudy with a slight change of an isolated shower. If showers are present, they may only virga and not hit the ground. Maximum temperatures on ridges of 76-80, midslopes 80-84 and valleys 84-88. Minimum humidity of 18-22% is expected. Ridgetop winds 6-12 gusting to 18 and terrain driven winds of 3-7 mph. In the extended forecast, gusty southwest winds will be present for Saturday and Sunday as a disturbance moves through. Temperatures will be somewhat cooler and afternoon humidity will be higher than we have been experiencing.