Flathead National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
650 Wolfpack Way
Kalispell, MT 59901
Crucifixion Creek, Strawberry, & Scalp Fires - Rocky Mountain Ranger District
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Contact: Rocky Mountain Ranger District, 406-466-5341
Media Contact: Duane Buchi, (406) 750-8934
Location: CRUCIFIXION CREEK Approximately 10 miles west of Heart Butte, in the Badger-Two Medicine area; STRAWBERRY CREEK—Eastern edge of fire is approximately 1 mile into the flats beyond the rocky reef extending to the south from Swift dam, 17 miles west of Dupuyer; SCALP—Approximately 7 miles due west of Teton Pass Ski Area.
Fire Management: One of the primary actions for today was the expanded closure area for all three fires due to the large expansion of Strawberry Creek and Scalp Fires and the forecasted continuance of active fire weather through Wednesday. Additionally, the Type 3 Incident Management Team is working from a pre-planned, long-term management plan that outlines precise management actions for each fire’s likely long duration. As an additional preplanning point, a Joint Delegation Authority Letter involving Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs Blackfeet Agency, Blackfeet Tribe, Blackfeet Tribal Police, Montana Department of Natural Resources, and the County Sherriff and Commissioners for Glacier, Pondera, and Teton Counties was completed Monday morning, September 11. This Joint Delegation of Authority Letter delegates fire management authority to the ICT3 Team for all fires across jurisdictions.
Crucifixion Creek Fire Update (10,080 Acres): The crew at Badger Cabin brings integral fire monitoring insight to fire activity. There was active burning to the west onto Goat Mountain and there was some activity on the northwestern and southwestern edges as well. Overall, fire activity was moderate in comparison to what occurred with the Strawberry Creek and Scalp fires. The Badger crew’s cabin area reinforcement is ongoing.
Strawberry Creek Fire Update (11,325 Acres): A RED FLAG WARNING yesterday brought exceptionally active fire behavior starting yesterday afternoon when it moved south across the Middle Fork of Birch Creek into heavy fuels where it burned aggressively into the South Fork of Birch Creek. Through the evening it made its way to the east, breaching a rocky reef that runs due south from the Swift Dam. The Chief Mountain Hotshots, equipment operators, and night-shift engine patrols engaged the fire as it came off the Forest onto state land and efforts are ongoing today. Helicopter and fixed wing aviation are available today to include three helicopters, the superscooper, and air tankers out of Helena for water and retardant drops as they are needed to check and slow the fire’s progress. A fresh 20-person handcrew is due on scene this afternoon to relieve the Chief Mountain Hotshots so they can rest. As the fire was progressing yesterday afternoon notifications were made to the Pondera and Teton County Sheriff and the Blackfeet Tribal Police. After consultation with the Type 3 Incident Management Team, The respective law enforcement authorities initiated two evacuations of residences/ranches residing within a line drawn from Heart Butte to Birch Creek and then from Birch Creek to Ben English Coulee. Additionally, preevacuations were initiated for the remaining residences up to and including Heart Butte and down the Swift Dam Road to include Dupuyer. Direct any evacuation questions to the Pondera County Sheriff's Dispatch at (406) 470-6163, Teton County Sheriff’s Office, (406) 466-5781, or Blackfeet Tribal Law Enforcement Dispatch at (406) 338-4000.
Scalp Fire Update (16,958 Acres): On the Flathead National Forest the Fire was active again as it burned around the north side of Mount May and crossed Trail Creek into Grimsley Park. To the southwest, it continues into the upper reaches of Clack Creek and around Dean Lake. There was limited activity along Open Creek on the Helena-Lewis and Clark Forest. Crews continue to monitor the fire from Gooseberry and Wrong Creek Cabins.
Heart Butte Air Quality: Air quality east of the continental divide is generally “Unhealthy today. A smoke monitor is in place at Heart Butte, and information can be accessed through this site: https://wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/smoke.pl. Click on the red location bubble that is numbered #3015 for information on the Heart Butte area. This data is time delayed by 6 hours.
Weather: A RED FLAG WARNING is in effect until midnight tonight for shifting winds and low humidity. A slow change to wetter and colder conditions will begin on Wednesday. The main concern today will be several wind shifts. Expect winds to shift to the north this morning, then back to the south/southeast this afternoon. A stronger wind shift will move through the region on Wednesday, shifting winds back to the north/northeast. Higher humidity and colder temperatures starts to move in on Wednesday. Expect widespread lower elevation rain and mountain snow to develop on Thursday and continue into Saturday morning. Widespread average rainfall amounts of 0.75 to 1.25 inches, with isolated higher amounts are expected. Anticipated moisture will help slow progression of all three fires.
Public Meeting Schedule: Ø Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at 6 p.m. in the Heart Butte School-Multi-Purpose Room Ø Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 6 p.m. in the Dupuyer Community Hall
Additional Information: A NEW PUBLIC AUTOMATED INFORMATION LINE was established for Alice Creek, Park Creek, Crucifixion Creek, Strawberry Creek, Scalp, & Rice Ridge Fires. This number is (406) 495-3767. It will connect you with the latest information on Forest area closures, fire information contacts, and even who you could call if you wanted to make a donation to volunteer firefighters.