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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 8/22/20

Wood Lake Fire Wildfire
News – 8/22/2020

AUGUST 22nd, 2020 

Fire Information Line:
(406) 750-8934

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 87 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: 1 Type-1 and 1 Type-3 Helicopter

Engines: 2

Total Personnel: 81

Yesterday’s Operations: The increase in acreage from yesterday to today resulted from greater accuracy in determining fire size with a helicopter vs the size estimation previously done with a fixed wing aircraft.  Firefighters again made noteworthy progress in reducing potential for fire spread through containment line reinforcement and the systematic searching out and cooling of hot spots. 

Today’s Operations: The Lewis and Clark Interagency Hotshots and the Ranger District's Wildland Fire Module remain spike camped in the fire area and will continue reinforcing containment lines and searching for and cooling hot spots.  Because of the steep, rocky terrain, with numerous snags interior to the fire, firefighters will utilize the helicopters to strategically drop water on hot spots to mitigate fire growth.   Helena Interagency Hotshots and two engine modules will patrol and reinforce the hose lays on the treatment units near Double Falls and Aspen areas. 

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:  Weather conditions for today and tomorrow are expected to closely replicate the sunny, hot, and breezy weather experienced yesterday.  The greatest concerns still lie with the potential for afternoon thunderstorms and the strong, unpredictable outflow winds that result.  Smoke from fires across the region continues to impact Montana’s air. Sites across the state have reported MODERATE air quality. Keep track of hourly concentrations at 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.