Liberty Fire Update
Sunday, September 10, 2017, 8:30 am
Northern Rockies Incident Management Team
Greg Poncin, Incident Commander
Fire Information: 406-272-4354, 8 am – 8 pm
Location: 17 miles SE of Arlee, Montana in the South Fork Primitive Area
Yesterday’s Accomplishments: Efforts continued to locate and complete indirect containment line in highly active fire areas around Yellow Lake and Burnt Cabin. The potential for spotting over containment lines was reduced along the eastern side (Belmont Road area) as crews mopped up larger downed fuels and reinforced containment lines. Fire activity increased in the afternoon with wind gusts reaching upwards of 20 mph on ridgetops. Increased fire behavior and high winds contributed to notable growth along the northeast corner around Grouse Creek and Second Creek, where concerns are near the Jocko Lake area and threats to powerlines. An air operation was conducted using thermal imagining, detecting several spot fires along the Belmont Road area, which firefighters promptly extinguished.
Today’s Planned Actions: Burnout operations will continue around Grouse Creek and Second Creek areas, to improve and secure containment lines. Crews will work to construct, maintain, improve, patrol, and hold containment lines along the east and southern flank of the fire in the Belmont Road and Gold Creek areas. As weather conditions allow, firing operations off constructed containment lines will continue. Firefighters will scout and assess existing dozer lines in the southern perimeter along the 2003 Mineral Primm fire scar to the Rattlesnake Wilderness boundary. Aircraft are being used when available to support suppression operations. Firefighters continue to monitor growth in the Yellow Lake/Burnt Cabin area along the fires west flank.
Weather and Fire Behavior: Smoke inversion weakened Saturday morning, though visibility remained low as it lingered across the incident. Breezy conditions will redevelop in the afternoon across the mid to higher elevations, while lower elevations can expect low, terrain-driven winds. Active fire movement will continue late into the evening as strong winds support active burning. Cooler temperatures during the day will provide better conditions, with opportunities to construct fire line. A Pacific storm system is expected to arrive mid-week with increasing chances of measureable precipitation.
Air Operations: Flight patterns continue to be halted by heavy inversion layers and thick smoke. A temporary flight restriction continues over much of the fire. Flying drones over the fire is prohibited. If drones are detected, air operations will cease. If you see a drone within the fire perimeter or the evacuation areas, report it by calling 406-813-0527.
Closures:An area closure is in place to ensure public health and safety. Encompassing Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) reservation boundary line east to the CSKT boundary, and southeast along the Middle Fork of Jocko River and Jocko Lake. From the east and southeast, the closure spans south to Boles Creek, east to Vaughn Creek, including Second Creek, Grouse Creek, Buck Creek and Finley Creek. From the west, Belmont Creek and Gold Creek northwest to Spring Creek, West Fork Gold Creek, Boulder Lake, Wapiti Lake and Crazy Fish Lake. The South Fork Primitive area of Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is closed. All trails and roads that are within the boundaries will remain closed until safety permits.
Due to extreme fire conditions, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) lands in western Montana are temporarily closed to all public access until conditions improve. TNC joins private timber companies, Weyerhaeuser and Stimson Lumber Company, in closing their western Montana lands to all public recreation, due to extreme fire danger. FWP helps to manage hunter access and recreation on some private lands, including TNC and some corporate timber companies. Hunters and recreationists should review closures and restrictions before heading out.
Fall hunting seasons and districts are all open as planned, but many areas have wildfire-related land closures, such as these, that affect hunter access and travel. Fire danger remains extreme region-wide, so hunters should use extra caution. For up-to-date information on the above closures and others on Block Management Areas and FWP lands, visit fwp.mt.gov, or call the FWP office in Missoula at 406-542-5500.
Evacuations: Currently, there are no evacuation warnings or orders.
Cooperating Agencies: The fire is under the jurisdiction ofConfederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Montana Department of Natural Resources (DNRC), and Lolo National Forest. Cooperators include Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Lake County Office of Emergency Management, Lake County Office of Emergency Services, Missoula County and Seeley Lake Fire, and The Nature Conservancy.