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Liberty Fire

Unit Information

Flathead Agency
Bureau of Indian Affairs
PO Box 40 Pablo Montana 59855
Pablo, MT 59855

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Liberty Fire Update August 28, 2017

Liberty Fire Wildfire
News – 8/28/2017

Liberty Fire

Fact Sheet Update

August 28, 2017 – 9:00 a.m.

Inciweb address: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5437/

Start Date: July 15, 2017 Origin Location: 17 miles SE of Arlee, Montana

Cause: Lightning Fuels: Timber, forest litter, grass & shrubs

Acres: 12,801 acres Percent Contained: 15%

Fire Information: 406-272-4354 (8:00 am to 8:00 pm)

Yesterday: Historically wildfires in this part of Montana have burned from the Northwest to the Southeast. This has been proven time and again with the 2003 Mineral-Primm and Boles Meadows Fires, and the 2007 Jocko Lakes Fire. This continues to hold true for the Liberty Fire, with the heaviest activity down in the Southeast corner in Division Tango. Sunday’s warmer temperatures, in the mid 80’s on the fireline with relative humidities around 11 to 12%, and very smoky conditions, led to another challenging day for fire crews. Just before dusk Saturday night the fire spotted in multiple places and then slopped over containment lines. Due to the morning inversion which held the smoke to the ground, creating a near impenetrable smog Sunday morning, crews had a difficult time finding the fire front. This made it impossible to implement a direct attack strategy in the morning on the fire as it backed down the mountainside, frequently breaking into bouts of crown torching and making runs back up the mountain. Visibility in the Southwest corner where the fire was most active was so poor that helicopters were unable to be used in supporting ground forces with aerial water drops. This led to ground forces, hand crews, engines and bulldozers having to pull back and regroup to start holding the flanks of the fire as it made its way South and East. Firing operations along the Eastern edge of the Southern confinement line were successfully completed extending good black in depth West into the Mineral-Primm Fire. The smoky conditions lifted enough by late afternoon to finally allow the use of aerial assets which included the use of water dropping helicopters and the use of several SEATS (Single Engine Air Tankers). SEATS are essentially crop dusters that drop fire retardant. Additionally, a heavy helicopter operated for several hours to slow down the advancing slop over flames. Fire crews spiked out again for another night near the firelines and again hot meals were brought out for dinner, and will be again for breakfast Monday morning.

Today: The Incident Meteorologist (IMET) assigned to the fire is forecasting a weather disturbance passing through the area that will create near critical fire conditions with temperatures in the upper 80’s on the fireline and winds of 10-15 mph with gusts at times up to 25. This will influence aerial operations as well as fire activity as fire managers scout for new locations for containment lines utilizing a combination of terrain features and old logging roads in the Southeast portion of the fire that will provide a high degree of success and allow crews enough time to successfully complete lines ahead of the rapidly moving flame front. Elsewhere along the fire, continued holding and improvement actions will occur along the Southern and upper Eastern containment and confinement lines. The crews will be patrolling along the burnout areas from yesterday’s activities for spot fires and prepare the Eastern boundary of the Southern containment line for tying in with the new Southeastern lines as they are constructed. The Western and Northern sectors of the fire will be patrolled to ensure they stay cold and black by both ground and aerial resources throughout the day.

Resources on the Fire: 5 20-person crews, (plus 1 more 20-person crew on loan from another fire) 11 engines, 3 bulldozers, 8 skidgines, 10 water tenders, Total: 422 personnel

Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Every time a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of this area. For more information visit Know Before You Fly, https://knowbeforeyoufly.org

For more information on all fires burning on the Lolo National Forest, log in to their Facebook page at:

https://www.facebook.com/lolonationalforest/