Weather and fire behavior: Red Flag Warning for western Montana fire zones including the Lolo Peak fire will be in effecttoday at 2:00 p.m., through 9:00 p.m. on Sunday. The tempo of fire activity is expected to increase due to low humidity, higher winds, and increasing atmospheric instability with a 30-percent chance for isolated thunderstorms. Winds on Saturday will be southeast 5 to 15 mph, changing on Sunday to southwest 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 35 mph with the passage of a dry cold front. Gusty winds are expected periodically during the coming week. Temperatures will range from 81-85 along ridges and 90-95 in the valleys. Minimum relative humidity will be 12 to 17 percent on Saturday and 18 to 23 percent on Sunday. With the unstable air mass, fire behavior is expected to increase in intensity. The number of hours where conditions are right for active burning are increased as well. Short crown runs are possible where wind, terrain and vegetation align. Embers could create spot fires up to 1/3 mile from main fire perimeter.
Yesterday: Fire growth was minimal. There was some perimeter growth where the fire crossed to the west side of the South Fork of Lolo Creek. Firefighters slowed further spread in the area with helicopters dropping fire retardant and water. Crews are monitoring the fire perimeter while maintaining pumps, hoses and sprinklers to ensure they will be ready to protect homes and reinforce the fire line, if needed.
Today: A night shift was added to patrol the Highway 12 corridor and adjacent roads overnight during this period of Red Flag Warning. Firefighters continue to be aided by aerial support in managing fire growth to avoid an alignment where wind, topography and fuels, could allow for rapid growth to the northeast toward homes and structures along U.S. 12 and the town of Lolo.
To the southwest, the primary containment line has been completed, tying into a bare rock outcrop near the old “Rocky Fire” scar. Firefighters are scouting for opportunities and constructing alternate containment lines using old road beds along the valley bottoms in the Highway 12 and 93 corridors.
We are coordinating closely with our cooperators, including the Missoula County Sheriff, Missoula Rural Fire District, and Missoula County Office of Emergency Management, with detailed plans in the event that evacuations are necessary.
Evacuations/Closure Information: No Evacuation Orders are in effect. The Evacuation Warning for the south side of Highway 12 from Fort Fizzle, west to the intersection with the Elk Meadows Road, including the Mill Creek Road area, has been EXPANDED now to include both the NORTH and SOUTH sides of the highway from Fort Fizzle west to Mile Post 20 at Bear Creek. This is not an order to evacuate, only a warning so citizens can prepare should evacuations become necessary. For further information call 258-INFO (4636).
Highway 12 remains open. Please do not stop along the road to view fire activity as it creates a traffic hazard.