Helena - Lewis and Clark National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
2880 Skyway Drive Helena Montana 59602
Helena, MT 59602
AUGUSTA, MT – Firefighters saw the Alice Creek Fire grow an additional 437 acres yesterday, mostly along the northern flank in upper drainage of East Fork of Falls Creek (drains to Dearborn Canyon). In the late afternoon, on the west flank, fire spotted into Wildcat Gulch. National Guard helicopters are dropping water to cool the fire in active areas while a handcrew is working to keep the fire west of Alice Mountain Ridge.
Red flag conditions will prevail through the weekend. These conditions are for critically dry, hot windy weather. Winds from the northwest with gusts up to 28 mph are expected in the late afternoon. This could cause the fire to become very active, producing visible columns of smoke. Due to these conditions, the burning period is lasting well into the early morning hours.
On the northeastern flank, firefighters have made good progress containing the fire from the northern tip (“the Hunting Lodge”), south to Bedrock Creek. When wind is favorable, a handcrew is slowly working their way east along a logging road with drip torches to clean up edges of the fire. This will enforce containment of the fire. From the “Hunting Lodge”, a dozer is beginning to work north, constructing a dozer line following the Falls Creek Ridge (drainage to Dearborn Creek).
Feller bunchers working with engines have been widening a road system that curves in a half circle from Bedrock Creek to the North Fork of Green Creek (does not include the south fork of Green Creek). Firefighters are cooperating with ranchers and other landowners adjacent to the fire area to share information and evolving plans that may affect their property if winds push the fire directly east. These conversations are essential to all involved as firefighters are highly sensitive to their concerns, and understand the fire is threatening the essence of their livelihoods. Firefighters, landowners, emergency response personnel, including the Wolf Creek fire responders and law enforcement, are participating in this contingency planning that may involve laying fire on the ground. These ongoing conversations will ensure the safety of firefighters and landowners and keep communication channels open. Fire managers wish to ensure these targeted landowners understand who is performing the activities, how they will occur and for what purpose.
Structure protection equipment are also in the southeast flank of the fire (Elk Meadow/Evergreen community) and the northern flank of the fire (Dearborn community) working with affected landowners.
Along the southeastern flank, two feller bunchers and crews are strengthened the line from the road in Green Creek to Lewis and Clark Pass to Bedrock Creek. Two chinook helicopters, capable of dropping 2,000 pounds of water per drop, are providing air support to firefighters.
Though Elk Meadows remains under mandatory evacuations the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff is authorizing limited and controlled access to the properties for Elk Meadow residents who need access to their property to recover essential items. Residents will be escorted in and out by the Sheriff. Please call 406-447-8293. Law enforcement officers from Everglades National Park are assisting the fire management organization. They are cross deputized by the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff and will be supporting them with road guard duty until County deputies re-join the organization Sunday.
A community meeting was held in Wolf Creek yesterday. There were about 50 attendees who received information about the fire's history, weather conditions, and multi-agency cooperation.
The National Guard Chinook helicopters are very large and may catch the eye of drivers along Hwy. 200. Signs marking their dip sites will are asking people to not stop along the roadway. Look at the aircraft dipping may be dangerous to other drivers.
SIZE: 7,440 acres CONTAINMENT: 5% (between the Lewis and Clark Trailhead and Alice Creek)
RESOURCES: Personnel: 204 Crews: 2 Engines: 16 Skidgens: 3 Dozers: 4 Helicopters: 3
EVACUATIONS/ PRE-EVACUATIONS: Lewis and Clark County Sheriff issued mandatory evacuations for residences in the Elk Meadows (Evergreen) subdivision and to ranches on Road 434/435 (north of Highway 200). A Pre-evacuation notice was given to residences located near Elk Meadows subdivision (about mile-marker 93) along Hwy 200 up to mile-marker 98. A Red Cross shelter is available in Helena at First Assembly of God Church (2210 Dodge Ave.) if needed. Please call 1-800-272-6668 for assistance.
ROAD CLOSURES: Lewis and Clark Co. Sheriff officers established road blocks at Elk Meadows driveway, the intersection of Hwy. 200 and Hwy. 434 and the intersection of Flat Creek Rd and Hwy. 434 to prevent unnecessary traffic from entering the fire area.
TRAIL & AREA CLOSURES: Due to the fire activity, an area closure is in place that affects multiple trails and roads. A trail re-route is established for hikers along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. A map of the area closure is posted at: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/5410/39087/
MORE INFORMATION: Facebook at www.facebook.com/HLCNF/