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West Lolo Complex

Unit Information

Lolo National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
24 Fort Missoula Road
Missoula, MT 59804

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Incident Contact

West Lolo Complex Fire Information
Email: 2021.westlolo@firenet.gov
Phone: 208-274-9674
Hours: Hours: 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Highlighted Activity

08/04/2021 West Lolo Complex (Thorne Creek Fire) Daily Update, Wednesday, August 4
   West Lolo Complex (Thorne Creek Fire) Lolo National Forest Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1 Mike Goicoechea, Incident Commander August 4, 2021     Contact...
News - 08/04/2021
West lolo complex map , Aug 4Image options: [ Full Size ]

Thunderstorms on July 7, 2021, started multiple wildfires across the Lolo National Forest. U.S. Forest service personnel in coordination with local cooperators and response partners actively engaged the fires. The western portion of the Forest, which includes the Superior and Plains-Thompson Falls Ranger Districts, experienced the most lightning activity.

The Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1 took command of multiple wildfire incidents located on the Superior and Plains-Thompson Falls Ranger Districts at 6 a.m. on July 9.   The Northern Rockies Team 1 transferred command of the West Lolo Complex to a local Type 3 Incident Management Team On July 22 at 8:00 p.m.  The Northern Rockies Team 1 took command of the West Lolo Complex and the Granite Pass Complex on July 31. The only fire currently remaining in the Complex is the Thorne Creek Fire. The Thorne Creek Fire is approximately 6 miles north-northeast of Thompson Falls, Montana. Fires that have been contained include Quinns, Upper Graves Creek, Thompson, Deep Creek, Sheep Creek, Cataract, Siegel and Sunset. The Deep Lookout Mountain Fire has been turned back to the local unit and information regarding that fire will be updated on the Lolo National Forest Facebook page if conditions change. The Winniemuck Fire joined the Thorne Creek Fire on July 17 and is now referred to as the Thorne Creek Fire. There are additional fires that Lolo National Forest personnel are working. Other National Forests surrounding the Lolo National Forest also have personnel working on fires on those Forests.  

The Thorne Creek Fire is being managed under a full suppression strategy. Public and Firefighter safety is the number one priority. In addition, minimizing impacts to local communities, private property and structures, timber resources, highway corridors, and recreation improvements are key considerations. Air resources, smokejumpers, ground crews, engines and heavy equipment have been used to suppress the fires.

Road and trail closures are in place on the Lolo National Forest. Please click on the closure section above or below to view the closure orders and maps.

Fire restrictions in the area are in place. 
Lolo National Forest fire restrictions. 
Missoula County Stage 2 Fire Restriction Emergency Proclamation
Mineral County Stage 2 Fire Restrictions
Sanders County Stage 2 Fire Restrictions


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Videos of community meetings and daily operational briefings for the public can be seen by clicking on this link: YouTube.  


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Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
CauseLightning
Date of OriginThursday July 08th, 2021 approx. 11:10 AM
LocationWest Lolo Complex includes the Thorne Creek Fire, near Thompson Falls, MT
Incident CommanderMike Goicoechea IC NRT1
Incident DescriptionThorne Creek Fire
Coordinates47.41 latitude, -114.988 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel325
Size17,923 Acres
Estimated Containment DateSunday October 31st, 2021 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved

Timber (Litter and Understory)

Closed Timber Litter

Brush (2 feet)

Indices are now just below the 97th percentile with live fuel moistures at seasonally low levels. 1000-hr fuels are still relatively low, while live fuels are still contribute to fire spread in heavy dead and downed subalpine fir fuel types. North aspects are starting to carry fire, however, they do not spread readily. Most recent fuel moistures on Ninemile include: 11% 1000-hr, 120% Douglas-fir, and 132-141% in shrubs. Numerous snags are in the immediate fire area.

Significant Events

Minimal

Backing

Creeping

Today is a transition day between the previous wetting rain and a return to warm and dry conditions. A slow start to the day is likely, due in part to the near 80% RH recovery. However, as the day heats up to nearly 90 degrees with RH's in the 20% range, fuels will dry to the point that active spreading will resume. It is unlikely fire will make it to the bottom of Weber Canyon today, but it will continue working down the south facing slope of that drainage. In the late afternoon, expect unburned pockets in the Squaw Creek drainage to resume burning, closing the gap between burned and unburned fuels.

Outlook

Planned Actions

Div C - Hold slop over from Graves Creek along Cougar Peak Road and machine line constructed along ridgeline. Use aircraft and retardant to reinforce line and cool fires edge. Recon to the Division C/X break for indirect control opportunities.

Div E/J - Continue work on alternate line west from the Spruce Fire scar connecting back to West Fork Road. Continue scouting for alternate line locations and control features that could check/slow the fire's spread. Monitor fire behavior and movement as needed.

Div N - Be prepared to receive and hold aerial ignition as directed by Operations and coordinate suppression actions with Div Zulu. Secure and cool fires edge as it is received on indirect fireline. Continue to ensure coordination with private inholdings as conditions change. Monitor fire spread as needed.

Div Z - Coordinate suppression actions with Div November. Utilize resources and hoselays to continue securing the fire's edge and mopping up along the indirect fireline. Request aircraft as needed for bucket work and retardant use. Ensure coordination with private inholdings as suppression activities take place.

Stucture Group - Identify and assess critical infrastructure, private and public structures, and other values at risk. Organize and engage local county fire districts and departments in a standard response plan. Pinpoint priorities for affected property owners.

Night Group - Patrol slop-over from Graves Creek along the machine line located on Cougar Peak in Div Charlie. Be prepared to take over firing/holding operations from Zulu and November. Utilize hoselay and other group resources to hold and cool fires edge.

Projected Incident Activity

12 hours: As the weather starts to warm back up, fuels will start to dry from the previous days wetting moisture. Expected fire behavior for most of the day is creeping and smoldering, however, as the afternoon heating drys these fuels out more activity is likely. Fire continues to back down to the bottom of Weber Gulch, however, north slopes are still slow to burn except were they turn slightly to the south or west. Activity will also pick up in the upper reaches of the Squaw Creek drainage, filling in holes of unburned fuels.

24 hours: A second day of drying will likely lead to continued backing and flanking in the Weber Gulch drainage, as well as, the continued cleaning up of unburned pockets in the Squaw Creek drainage. Mop-up continues in Graves Creek in DIVS C, as well as, along the valley bottoms of DIVS Z.

Remarks

Once individual fires are fully contained and returned to the local district, they are removed from the 209 and no longer reported by the West Lolo Complex. The West Lolo Complex currently includes only the Thorne Creek fire. Fires that have been contained include Quinns, Upper Graves Creek, Thompson, Deep Creek, Sheep Creek, Cataract, Siegel Creek and Sunset. Percent containment has been adjusted frequently up and down as fires have been returned to home unit and removed from the complex.

No acreage/infrared update for this reporting period due to inclement weather over the complex on 8/1/21 and aircraft mechanical issues 8/2/21.

Today, 25 members of the Montana National Guard 631st Chemical and 639th Quartermaster Companies were deployed to the West Lolo Complex to support security functions.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

High pressure rebuilding across the western U.S. brought warmer and much drier conditions to the area today with additional warming and drying through Wednesday. Humidity recovery will not be as good tonight at mid to higher slopes and is likely to only be moderate to poor Wednesday night. General winds from the west will bring breezy winds at times on ridgetops while terrain-driven lighter winds prevail at lower slopes and valley locations. Some afternoon clouds are possible today and again Wednesday with a very limited risk for isolated thunderstorm development, mainly east of the fire area.

A weather disturbance moving into the region Thursday will bring a chance for showers and thunderstorms late Thursday. Storms on Thursday may produce scattered wetting rain, but will also have potential for gusty winds. A cooler but also more windy weather pattern develops Friday through Sunday with higher cloud-cover as well as humidity.