Skip to main content

Woods Creek Fire

Unit Information

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

USFS Shield

Daily Fire Update 8-12-2021

Woods Creek Fire Wildfire
News – 8/12/2021

  American Fork, Balsinger, and Woods Creek Fires Update

Thursday, August 12, 2021-9 a.m.

Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management TeamDan Dallas, Incident Commander

Phone: 406-426-9612 (8 a.m. – 8 p.m.)



Special Notes:

Management of the Ellis Fire has been transferred back to the Helena-Lewis and Clark NF and will no longer be reported here.

The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team assumed command over these fires today at 7 a.m.

Information on the Woods Creek, Balsinger and American Fork fires will be posted on a new Facebook site. @WoodsCreekBalsingerAmericanForkFires

There is now an interactive web map available for your use. You can use this map to determine distance and location of the fires from your address. See this link:

Current Situation: Winds are weakening today, with the weather becoming dry and hot over the weekend. Today will see an uptick in the number and amount of smokes popping up. We are beginning to see the drying effects of the last several days, and fire activity will increase. Direct and indirect suppression tactics will continue to be used in appropriate locations.

Large fires are broken into Divisions to facilitate management. Beginning today, this update will describe firefighters’ work by Division in order to provide more detail. Divisions are displayed on the accompanying fire map.

American Fork Acreage: 19,599 Containment: 10% Start date: July 17, 2021 Cause: Lightning Personnel: 34
The American Fork Fire is burning in the central part of the Crazy Mountains, about 24 miles southwest of Harlowton, Montana. It’s burning on both the east and west sides of the mountain range, approximately 12 miles northeast of Wilsall and approximately six miles west of Melville. This fire can expect slow/moderate backing and flanking surface fire, with isolated torching possible, but fire spread will still be limited.  Division P will continue with structure assessments and mitigation measures in the Shields River corridor, to include several tracts of private property. Providing structure protection in the Shields River area remains a primary focus. Pockets of heat remain in Divisions M and P near Shields River, Lodgepole Creek and Loco Mountain. They will build fireline directly at the fire’s edge, where accessible, along Buck Creek near Buckskin Road in Division P. Firefighters tied in line around Loop Road and Crandall Creek, where they cut into an old road to access the area west of Crandall Creek. Balsinger Fire    Acreage: 9,834 Containment: 45% Start date: July 8, 2021 Cause: Lightning; Personnel: 243 The Balsinger Fire is burning about five miles west of Neihart, Montana. Little fire activity is anticipated, with limited fire spread potential. Wind shift today may bring the few remaining hotspots on the south end of the fire into alignment with terrain. In Divisions A, M, and I, firefighters will patrol Divide Road and Deer Creek Estates west of the fire to take action if the fire moves in that direction.  Division T will patrol and mop up along the eastern edge. Areas of heat, such as those south of Thunder Mountain, may show back up today as fuels dry. Crews will mop up today in that area. Structure protection is in place along the Hwy 89 corridor to protect the communities of Neihart and Monarch, both about four miles from the fire’s edge. A priority for today remains point/structure protection, making sure livestock has been removed to safe areas, reassessing the fire perimeter to establish anchor points, and improving established anchor points. Woods Creek Fire Acreage: 48,709 Containment: 5% Start date: July 10, 2021 Cause: Lightning Personnel: 424 The Woods Creek Fire continues to burn in the Big Belt Mountains, about 16 miles northeast of Townsend, Montana, and has moved onto private lands. We anticipate that a slow backing fire will continue. Most areas of available fuel next to heat have been consumed. Any heat near the bottom of slopes has the potential to rapidly move uphill, but will be checked by discontinuous fuels in most areas.  Today, crews are working directly at the fire’s edge and mopping up around Confederate Gulch, establishing a fireline northward from Division YY to Division AA. Crews will be monitoring and improving constructed lines on private lands in cooperation with local landowners. Firefighters will use a combination of equipment and hand crews on Division OO (southeastern edge) to reduce fire spread to the east along Big Birch drainage and surrounding private lands. In Divisions AA and MM (on the eastern side of the fire), firefighters have been working on handline construction and structure protection and will continue assessing options for line construction north to Elk Creek and south to Butte Creek. Firefighters are working with local landowners to establish indirect control line in Divisions SS and WW from Boulder Creek to North Fork Duck Creek and south to Duck Creek Road. Crews will be supporting private landowners with dozer line construction south to Holloway Gulch in Division QQ. Weather and Fire Behavior A weak cold front will bring a wind shift from the northwest to the north or northeast today as wind speeds diminish and then become variable Friday. Seasonal temperatures are expected today before climbing above normal Friday and over the weekend. Minimum humidity values will remain in the 20’s before dropping to critical levels (15-20%) Saturday and Sunday. There will be a slight chance of thunderstorms over higher terrain Friday and into the weekend. Watch for shifting wind directions to change fire activity and potential spread into dry fuels. Expect peak burning conditions between 2 – 7 p.m. The most active fire behavior will be associated with alignment of winds, which may be heavily influenced by terrain. Evacuation Notices

American Fork Fire

  • On August 9, Park Co Sheriff’s Office downgraded the Shields River Road evacuation to pre-evacuation status. Meagher County has done the same with the Smith Creek area. This is due to favorable weather and fire behavior but could change as needed. The county roads in the area are open; however, there are still closures in the forest.

Balsinger Fire

  • An evacuation order for Belt Park, issued by the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, remains in place.
  • A pre-evacuation order was issued for the area from the Belt Creek Ranger Station to Monarch and from west of Monarch to the confluence of Pilgrim Creek and Belt Creek.

Woods Creek Fire

  • The Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order in connection with the Woods Creek Fire, covering everything east of Highway 284 between Gravely Lane on the north and Dry Gulch Road on the south. Ray Creek is on high alert. Highway 284 remains open.