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Wood Lake Fire

Unit Information

Helena - Lewis and Clark National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
2880 Skyway Drive
Helena, MT 59602

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Daily Update for 8-21-2020

Wood Lake Fire Wildfire
News – 8/21/2020

Fire Information Line: (406) 740-7005
Public Inquiry Email:
Type III Incident Commander:  Alex Brooks
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The Wood Lake Fire was reported by the Prairie Reef lookout at 10am on Monday, August 17th with an estimated size of 3 acres. By 6 p.m. the same day its growth was estimated at 50 acres with active fire behavior and spotting a quarter of a mile ahead of the fire front. The fire is in steep, rugged terrain on the upper third of a north-facing slope. The Rocky Mountain Ranger District's initial response consisted of a 6-person district fire module and a 4-person engine module. The Lewis and Clark Interagency Hotshots were on-scene by 2:00 p.m., supported by 2 Type-1 helicopters for water drops, and 1 Type-2 for transportation needs. Additionally, a large air tanker delivered 5 loads of retardant and single-engine-air-tankers delivered 15 loads of retardant, which helped hold the fire until fire crews could mobilize.

Size:  Approximately 73 acres                     Containment:  30%                                                         Cause:  Lightning

Structures threatened:  0                             Location:  21 miles southwest of Augusta             Structures destroyed:  0

Fire Crews:  Lewis & Clark Interagency Hotshots, Helena Hotshots, Rocky Mountain Ranger District Module

Air Support: 2 Type-1, 1 Type-3 Helicopters

Engines: 2

Total Personnel: 80

Yesterday’s Operations: Firefighters took advantage of cooler weather yesterday and were able to make considerable progress reinforcing water drops and retardant line throughout the day, bringing containment to 30 percent by the end of shift. Firefighters were also able to extinguish spot fires that occurred during the initial fire growth.

Today’s Operations: Crews will reinforce retardant line and build fireline focusing on the north and east perimeters.  Due to steep, rocky terrain and numerous snags interior to the fire, firefighters will use helicopters to strategically drop water, cooling hot spots, aiding in perimeter containment.  Efforts will continue in the Double Falls and Aspen areas again today.  These crews are working to reinforce past fuels reduction treatment units.

Evacuations and Closures:  In order to facilitate the safety of the public and suppression of the Wood Lake wildfire a temporary closure has been placed on Wood Lake, Wood Lake campground, Wood Lake picnic area, and the Petty-Crown Trailhead and associated loop trail. In addition, all dispersed camping will be closed from the Forest boundary along Benchmark Road to Wood Lake.  However, Benchmark Road will remain open to through traffic at this time.  Motorists are asked not to stop in the fire vicinity in order to keep roads open and safe for both public and fire traffic.

Weather & Fuel Conditions:  Today will be sunny, with a high of 89 degrees. Light southwest winds from 5 to 10 mph with gusts up to 20 mph.  The area will see a widespread haze from noon to 4 p.m. this afternoon.  A Hazardous Fire Weather Watch has been issued for the area starting at noon on Saturday, August 22, through Saturday evening.  The watch calls for warm temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds.  The Weather Service is predicting temperatures in the low 80s, winds out of the west from 15 to 25 mph and relative humidity levels dropping down to 15 percent.

The wildfire is burning in heavy timber, litter and a subalpine fir understory.

Temporary Flight Restrictions: Temporary flight restrictions are in effect around the entire fire area.

Physical information availability:  Fire information boards will be posted daily at the Augusta Information Station, and the Choteau Ranger District Office.