Bitterroot National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
1801 North 1st Hamilton Montana 59840
Hamilton, MT 59840
Dominic Butte Fire grew to 55 acres yesterday. Most of the new growth and activity occurred on the north and east sides of the fire below Willow Mountain Lookout. The lightning caused fire is located on the Stevensville Ranger District in the Sapphire Mountains east of Corvallis.
Yesterday, firefighters completed construction of a fire line and hose line around the perimeter of the fire and stopped significant fire growth. Natural barriers (large rocks –old fire scars) are also helping limit the fires spread. Two helicopters with buckets assisted with water drops helping cool the fire and keep it from advancing. Firefighters did locate numerous spot fires yesterday and worked to contain those. On Wednesday, a heavy air tanker and four SEATs (single engine air tankers) made multiple retardant drops on the fire. See air stats below along with a photo of retardant covering Dominic Butte.
Today’s plans are to continue connecting hand lines to roads adjacent to the fire and use hose lays to extinguish hot spots and burning material. Fire managers also want to keep the fire north of Willow Mountain Road, west of the Willow Lookout and east of Deep Creek. Two helicopters are also available to respond to any new spot fires and check fire growth.
The fire area contains heavy timber and brush along with dead and down fuels and numerous snags which presents a serious safety threat to firefighters, especially in high wind situations.
There are currently 80 firefighters, three engines, two water tenders and a dozer assigned to the blaze which is being actively suppressed. There are no structures threatened and trail and road closures are in place for Willow Creek Road, Willow Creek Trail, Gleason Lake Trail, and Burnt Fork Lake. For more information visit www.inciweb.nwcg.gov
Air Statistics: The four helicopters working on the Dominic Butte fire since Wednesday have dumped approximately 63,000 gallons of water on the fire. The five air tankers dumped 11,575 gallons of retardant helping establish a perimeter that firefighters on the ground are now working to reinforce.
Tin Cup Fire is burning on the Darby/Sula Ranger District at the head of Tin Cup drainage near Tin Cup Lake. It has not grown today and remains at 5 acres. A medium helicopter with a bucket has been dropping water on the fire since yesterday to limit its growth. There are currently 10 firefighters working to suppress the fire including 8 Smokejumpers. There are no structures threatened, but a closure is in place for public safety due to active fire in the Upper Tin Cup area including Tin Cup Trail #96. Firefighter safety remains a priority due to this fire’s current location in remote, steep, rocky and rugged terrain.
Martin Creek Fire was discovered late yesterday afternoon on the Darby/Sula Ranger District up the East Fork, three miles SW of the Chain of Lakes. Thanks to the quick response of firefighters, the lightning fire was contained this morning at .10 acre. Four firefighters remain on scene this afternoon. The fire is now in mop-up status.
White Cap & Vance Mountain Fires are located on the West Fork Ranger District in Idaho’s Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness 3 miles west of Tin Cup Lake. White Cap is 5 acres in size and Vance Mountain is estimated at 15 acres. Both are lightning caused and are remote with no access. They are located in extremely steep, rugged, and rocky terrain. These fire will not be staffed as firefighter safety is the number one priority. The fires will be managed for resource benefits and monitored by staffed lookouts and daily recon/air patrol flights.
Weather: Continued hot and dry conditions this afternoon and into the weekend with gusty winds around 25 mph. A warming trend is in store for Sunday with temps reaching the mid-90s leading to increased fire activity.
Fire Danger: Fire Danger is currently “High” on the Bitterroot National Forest. Fires can spread rapidly and quickly increase in intensity after ignition. Firefighters have responded to two abandoned campfires on the forest since yesterday. Never leave campfires unattended! Pour water and add dirt to your campfire until it is cold. Remember, if it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave. There are no fire restrictions at this time, but the public is reminded to use caution with any outdoor activity that may cause a spark.
Smoke/Air Quality: There are several large lightning wilderness fires burning to our west in Idaho on the Nez Perce–Clearwater National Forest that may contribute towidespread hazy skies and smoke impacts in the Bitterroot Valley. The largest is the 700 acre Moose Creek Fire near Moose Creek Ranger Station. The fires in Rock Creek on the Lolo National Forest have grown to more than 2,500 acres. For the latest air quality information visit http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/. This site displays particulate concentrations and health effects including a daily Wildfire Smoke Update. The information is measured by monitoring equipment across the state including a site in Hamilton.
2017 Fire Season: Firefighters have responded to 10 human caused fires and 27 lightning fires this summer on the Bitterroot National Forest. Due to the quick response of crews, most fires were kept small under 1 acre in size.
Please Note: Drones are dangerous if flown near wildfires. Drones can interfere with wildland fire air traffic that are necessary to suppress fires and could ground firefighting aircraft due to safety concerns. Learn more at http://www.nifc.gov/drones/