Lolo Peak Fire Update
Sunday, August 27, 2017; 8:30 AM
Northern Rockies Incident Management Team
Greg Poncin, Incident Commander
Fire origin: July 15, 2017, ten miles southwest of Lolo, MT.
Fire Information: (406) 272-5433 Hours: 7am – 9pm
Websites: Inciweb: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5375
Missoula County Sheriff: http://tinyurl.com/ya93jpuf
Ravalli County: http://ravalli.us/557/Fire-Incident-Information
Facebook: Bitterroot National Forest Facebook Page
Lolo National Forest Facebook Page
Public Meeting Tonight: There will be a community meeting at 7 p.m. at the Florence Baptist Church, 5561 Old U.S. 93 in Florence. It will be livestreamed on the Lolo and Bitterroot National Forest Facebook pages.
Fire Information Locations: Staffed fire information is available in three locations: Super 1 Foods in Stevensville; Farmers State Bank in Florence; and the weigh station in Lolo at the corner of Highways 12 and 93.
Evacuations and Warnings: All evacuation areas from the Bear Creek area on Highway 12 east to Lolo and south to the Bass Creek area on Highway 93 remain under evacuation warning. There are no evacuation orders at this time, but this could change based on fire behavior. For current information visit the Missoula County and Ravalli County Sheriffs’ Facebook pages.
Returning Home: Residents may see changes to their property as a result of firefighting operations. Check your property for damage to your well/pump, electric/gas meter, propane tank and for fire-weakened trees.
Highway 12 is open - 45 mph speed limit through the fire area.
Summary: Weather conditions yesterday allowed firefighters to conduct a large burnout operation east of Elk Meadows Road. A combination of aerial ignition and crews burned the last area at the south end of Elk Meadows Road to seal off the fire from moving north into the Highway 12 corridor. The main fire has now been stopped at the primary control line from the Elk Meadows Road (about two miles north of the Idaho border), to Highway 12, east to Lolo, and south to the mouth of the One Horse Creek Canyon. On the southeast side of the fire, a low-intensity burnout operation in two enclosed “blocks” of land in the Larry Creek Campground and Bass Creek Recreational Area created highly visible smoke. Firefighters ignited the second of these blocks after midnight, and continued burnout and mop up throughout the night. These firing operations are a continuation of a series of burnouts south from One Horse Creek that will be connected together as an additional buffer for the primary control line. The blocks are fully contained by fire line so fire introduced within each block cannot move west up into the mountains. The Chena Hotshots hiked into the Little Joe cabin in the Bass Creek area to prepare it ahead of fire moving towards it by clearing trees and other vegetation close to the cabin.
Today: More smoke will be present on the hillside near Larry Creek and Bass Creek areas as crews mop up yesterday’s and last night’s burnout operations. Other blocks of land in areas that already are, or can be, enclosed by a combination of control line, trail or road are being either identified and/or prepped for future burnout operations south of Bass Creek. Like links in a chain, these burnouts are proceeding south to protect homes and other values at risk by widening the buffer along the main control line. These burnout blocks also provide a good anchor point and safety zones for firefighters as they work in these area to secure the control line in anticipation of thunderstorms that are predicted to enter the area around midweek. Until then, the hot and dry weather will continue to dry out available fuels. Some torching and crowning will be present as the main fire continues to move through areas of unburned fuel, especially in the hotter afternoon hours. Firefighters are also aggressively mopping up along the fire’s perimeter during the day and patrolling along the control line and among residences in the highway corridors at night. In addition, they are pulling equipment from the Highway 12 corridor that is no longer needed in that area. Dozers and hand crews are improving the primary control line between Bass Creek Road and North Kootenai Creek road and constructing hand line towards the 2009 Kootenai Creek fire scar.
Please do not stop along the highways to view fire activity. It creates a significant traffic hazard, impedes firefighter traffic, impacts the safety of firefighters and citizens, and increases the chances that the fire could escape control lines.
Firewise: For information on how to improve the chances of your homes and structures surviving a wildfire, visit the Firewise website at www.Firewise.org.
Evacuation/Closure Information: Evacuations and road closures are based upon the need to provide for safety of the public and firefighters, current fire behavior, forecasted weather, and planned suppression operations. Fire officials, Missoula and Ravalli County Sheriff’s Offices, and Montana Department of Transportation will evaluate the evacuation and road closures daily. The Incident Commander, Missoula County Rural Fire Chief, Ravalli County Fire Warden, and the Missoula and Ravalli County Sheriffs appreciate your patience and will work hard to get you back into your homes as soon as it is safe to do so. Go to the Sheriffs Offices’ Facebook pages for the most current information.
The Red Cross shelter in Missoula is closing today.
Drones and TFR: The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) for the Lolo Peak Fire remains in effect. The restriction includes “drones” or unmanned aerial vehicles. If drones are detected, air operations stop. “If you fly, we can’t! If you see a drone in the fire area, including the evacuation areas, report it immediately to 406-272-5433. Please provide your name, phone number, location and time you observed the drone. Your cooperation is needed to insure the safety of our pilots.
Stage II Fire Restrictions are in effect for Missoula and Ravalli Counties and across the Lolo and Bitterroot National Forests. Additional information can be found on Inciweb.
Closures: For specific area closure information on the Lolo and Bitterroot National Forests please visit the Inciweb website, the Lolo National Forest website and/or the Bitterroot National Forest website.
Jurisdiction: The fire is under the jurisdiction of the Lolo and Bitterroot National Forests and the Montana Department of Natural Resources (MTDNRC). It is being managed under unified command consisting of Incident Commander Poncin, Missoula Rural Fire Chief Newman and Ravalli County Fire Warden Mohn. Montana National Guard soldiersare providing assistance to the Missoula and Ravalli County Sheriffs’ offices in road closures and evacuation programs.
Missoula County residents can receive emergency notifications of critical alerts via their choice of text, phone and/or email by signing up at Smart911.com. Residents in Ravalli County can download the Ravalli County Sheriff’s app to their mobile devices to receive critical information notifications.
Cooperators: Stevensville, Ravalli & Missoula County Government; Ravalli and Missoula County Sheriffs' Offices; Missoula Rural Fire; Florence VFD; Florence – Carlton School District; Nez Perce Tribe; Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; MDOT; Carlton and Bass Lake Irrigation; Ravalli and Missoula County DES; Private Landowners.