Sapphire Complex-Little Hogback News Release

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Sapphire Complex-Little Hogback News Release

Meyers Sapphire Complex Update for September 12, 2017

Incident: Sapphire Complex-Little Hogback Wildfire
Released: 9/12/2017

A public meeting will be held tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Wise River Community Center east of the Meyers Fire.


Although yesterday was an active fire day in several locations on the Meyers Fire and Sapphire Complex, there was minimal fire growth. Today, helicopters will be used to cool hot spots and monitor fire activity.


Sapphire Complex: 43,739 acres Location: Approximately 25 miles south-southeast of Missoula

Containment: 58% Cause: Lightning Total Personnel: 195

Three fires comprise the Sapphire Complex: Little Hogback, Goat Creek, and Sliderock. The fires are in steep, rocky terrain between Rock Creek and Upper Willow Creek drainages.

Little Hogback Fire: 34,539 acres

The east side of the fire is in patrol status with some rehabilitation starting on the north side. Firefighters continue to secure the south-central part of the fire’s periphery where active fire remains. There is also active fire on the northwest side and structure protection along Rock Creek Road is a priority, particularly in the Idle Ranches subdivision. Structures are prepped and sprinklers are in place to protect residences. Helicopters continue water drops to help keep fire growth in check. Unburned pockets in the interior continue to burn but this fire should be in monitoring and patrol status soon.

Goat Creek Fire: 8,300 acres

Firefighters continue rehabilitation of constructed fire breaks and some heat remains in the interior.

Sliderock Fire: 900 acres

There has been no growth in the overall size of this fire; any hot spots are in the fire interior. Rehabilitation of constructed firelines will follow after this work is completed for the Goat Creek Fire.


Meyers Fire: 61,885 acres Location: Approximately 25 miles southwest of Philipsburg, Montana

Containment: 8% Cause: Lightning Total Personnel: 373


The fire is burning in mixed conifer stands, primarily lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir, and subalpine fir, with many standing dead trees. These snags have become increasingly dangerous to firefighters as they burn through and get pushed over by wind.


The Carpp Creek drainage at the eastern part of the fire remains a high priority. Helicopters will continue to monitor this area and make water drops as needed to keep spot fires in check and hold the fire south of the creek. Structure protection measures ahead of this drainage, particularly at Moose Lake, continue to be monitored for readiness. Contingency fire breaks between there and Georgetown Lake are being assessed for any remaining prep work. Crews continue to mop-up and secure some areas of concern around the fire, including southeast of Zeke’s Meadows. The Twin Sisters area had some fire activity yesterday and helicopter water drops helped cool hot spots on that flank. Active fire is working its way down the East Fork of the Bitterroot drainage and fireline construction continues around the Billie Springer Memorial and Bonanza Lands subdivisions. Work on these firebreaks has taken longer than expected, but should be complete in the next few days. At the south end of the fire where it has crossed the Continental Divide into the Wise River Ranger District in Beaverhead and Deerlodge counties, exposed rocky areas have slowed growth. This area will continue to be monitored from the air, but incident managers do not anticipate significant fire growth there.

Resources Threatened

Sapphire Complex: Private property and structures in the Rock Creek, Upper Willow Creek, and Marshall Creek and East Bitterroot drainages remain at risk. Other resources threatened include fisheries in Rock Creek, grazing lands along the southern boundary of the Little Hogback Fire, Bonneville Power Administration powerline, and a communication site.

Meyers Fire: Private property and structures in the Moose Lake, Frog Pond, Billie Springer Memorial Park, and Bonanza Lands areas, as well as other scattered dwellings are still at risk and continue to be prepped and monitored. Nearby grazing land also remains a concern.

Evacuations

Sapphire Complex: A mandatory evacuation (Level Red) order for approximately fifty-six structures along Upper Rock Creek Road remains in effect. It starts at and includes Wild Rose Loop south to Stony Creek. Pre-evacuation (Level Yellow) notices remain in effect for Upper Rock Creek Road from Stony Creek south to the Kyle G. Bohrnsen Memorial Bridge. It includes residences on the lower Cornish Gulch Road and Basin Gulch Road, and Upper Rock Creek Road residences from Bobcat Creek south to Hogback Homestead. Pre-evacuation orders have been lifted for the Marshall Creek subdivision, Upper Willow Creek north from the intersection of Upper Rock Creek Road and the Upper Willow Creek Road, and the Rock Creek drainage from Babcock Creek south to Bobcat Creek. For information on evacuation planning refer to the Ready-Set-Go materials available at http://www.wildlandfirersg.org/Portals/18/Resources/States/MT/RSG_Montana_ActionGuide_web.pdf

Meyers Fire: The Frog Pond and Moose Lake areas are still under a mandatory evacuation order and the Billie Springer Memorial and Bonanza subdivisions are under warning for evacuation. Additionally, an evacuation warning is in effect on East Fork Road from FS Road 5778 to Little East Fork Rd (FS Rd 724) on the Bitterroot National Forest. Those under an evacuation warning should be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.

Closures

Closures are in place to protect the public from potential harm from wildfires and firefighting operations.

Sapphire Complex: The Rock Creek Road from I-90 south to Bitterroot Campground (MP 23.5) is OPEN. Due to fire traffic congestion and fire safety concerns, Rock Creek Road will stay CLOSED from Bitterroot Campground, south to Cornish Gulch (FSR5027), and public traffic is NOT allowed. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest reduced closure restrictions in the Black Pine ridge area, but maintains all area closures in Upper Willow Creek, North Fork Lower Willow Creek, and Harvey Creek areas. Upper Willow Creek Road remains closed to the public. The Lolo National Forest still has area closures east and north of Rock Creek Road, south of I-90 and east to the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest boundary. The Bureau of Land Management has an area closure in Upper Willow Creek, Ram Mountain, and nearby areas. The Lolo and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Montana Department of Natural Resources (DNRC) closure orders and maps are posted under the closures tab on Inciweb. A temporary flight restriction (TFR) remains in effect surrounding the Little Hogback Fire area.

Meyers Fire: Bitterroot National Forest emergency closure orders are still in effect for upper areas of the East Fork Bitterroot River. The expanded Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest closure also remains in effect. On the south side of the fire, the closure extends between Bender Creek and LaMarche Creek, including Pintler Campground and Trailhead, Mystic Trailhead, Mussigbrod Campground and Trailhead, and all trailheads in the Mudd Creek and Fishtrap Creek areas. Several miles of the Continental Divide Trail are closed. A TFR is still in place surrounding the Meyers Fire area. Granite County is under Stage 2 fire restrictions for private lands in the county. Amended Stage 1 fire restrictions are in effect prohibiting ALL campfires in southwestern Montana on public lands, including in fire rings and developed recreation areas. For fire restriction details, visit firerestrictions.us/mt.

Weather

High pressure will begin to move east today, bringing a chance of showers and thunderstorms late today into Wednesday morning. Cooler and wetter weather will settle over western Montana through Saturday. Snow elevation could drop from 9000 feet Thursday evening down to 6000 feet by Saturday morning. Today’s high temperatures will be in the mid-70s on the Meyers Fire and high-80s to low-90s on the Hogback Fire. Humidity will be in the teens in the valleys and high teens to low-20s at upper elevations. Southwest winds at 10-15 mph are expected by late morning.


For further information follow the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest Facebook, Bitterroot National Forest Facebook or Lolo National Forest pages.

Unit Information

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