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Woods Creek Fire

Unit Information

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

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Daily Fire Update 08-19-2021

Woods Creek Fire Wildfire
News – 8/19/2021

American Fork, Balsinger, and Woods Creek Fires Update

Thursday, August 19, 2021 – 10:00 a.m.
Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team
Dan Dallas, Incident Commander

Information phone: 406-426-9612
Email: 2021.divide@firenet.gov
Information staffing hours: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm

Current Situation: Cool, wet weather dampened fire behavior yesterday. The weather also limited firefighters’ ability to access the fires, especially with aerial support and heavy equipment, due to poor visibility and slick roads. The Balsinger fire saw additional containment. Firefighters continue to make progress on strengthening containment and contingency lines. Night patrol continues tonight.

American Fork Fire
Acreage: 21,876 | Containment: 57% | Start date: July 17, 2021 | Cause: Lightning | Personnel: 113
The American Fork Fire is burning in the central part of the Crazy Mountains, approximately 24 miles southwest of Harlowton, Montana. Yesterday, dozers worked in the northwest part of the fire in Division M. Today, the plan is to continue direct attack in this division, constructing fireline from Crandall Creek toward Lodgepole Trailhead and using a dozer, working toward Loco Mountain. On the east side of the fire, crews are working to mop up a small slop-over contained with direct line. Today, additional crews and engines in Division A will continue constructing direct fire line from Buck Creek Road, working east. Firefighters will also improve dozer line and hand line around private property.

Balsinger Fire
Acreage: 8,614 | Containment: 77% | Start date: July 9, 2021 | Cause: Lightning | Personnel: 122
The Balsinger Fire is in the Little Belt Mountains, approximately five miles west of Neihart, Montana. Firefighters increased containment yesterday on the south edge of the fire in Division I. The plan today is to patrol and mop up along containment line, addressing any hot spots. They will also work toward containment on the northwest edge, depending on access and weather conditions. Crews will secure direct line and contain any spot fires near Thunder Mountain.

Woods Creek Fire
Acreage: 55,834 | Containment: 49% | Start date: July 10, 2021 | Cause: Lightning | Personnel: 508
The Woods Creek Fire is burning in the Big Belt Mountains, approximately 16 miles northeast of Townsend, Montana. A hotshot crew continues direct attack in Division AA, working south from the containment line along the North Fork of Elk Creek. If conditions allow, crews will work behind them, mopping up. The other two hotshot crews continue direct attack in Division YY, working east toward Division AA. They are constructing hand line, working around patches of snags with indirect line. On the east edge, crews continue to monitor, patrol and strengthen the containment edge, and work to contain the remaining piece of line near Big Birch Creek. They are starting the process of “backhauling” – taking hoses and other equipment in to be cleaned and prepared for its next use. In the southeast part of the fire, near Windy Ridge, indirect and contingency line are complete. Today, a crew will bring in a feller-buncher to remove snags near the fire edge so firefighters can engage in direct attack. In Division QQ yesterday, crews contained a ¼-acre spot fire near Gurnett Creek. In Division SS, firefighters will address a hot spot today near North Fork Duck Creek. They have started suppression repair in this area, mitigating the effects of fire suppression activities on natural and cultural resources. As part of suppression repair work, crews will be chipping and masticating brush cleared for fireline construction.

Weather and Fuel Conditions: It rained on all three fires yesterday, with totals ranging from less than 1/3 of an inch on Woods Creek to 1.2 inches on American Fork. Today the forecast is for cloudy, cool, dry conditions with a 40% chance of rain in the afternoon, likely coming from the southeast and primarily affecting the American Fork Fire. Wetting rain is expected tomorrow and Saturday. The high temperature today will be 52°F at 7500 feet elevation. Winds are from the northwest, with gusts at 10-15 mph. With moisture on all three fires and higher humidities, fire behavior is subdued.

Evacuation Notices
The interactive web map now depicts evacuation areas. Please see https://bit.ly/WoodsCreekBalsingerAmericanForkFires or contact your local county sheriff’s office for details.

American Fork Fire: The Park County Sheriff’s Office has Shields River Road in pre-evacuation status. Meagher County has done the same with the Smith Creek area. County roads in the area are open. However, there are still closures in the National Forests.

Balsinger Fire: An evacuation order for Belt Park, issued by the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, remains in place. There is a pre-evacuation order 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: Effective August 11, the Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office lifted the evacuation order covering everything east of Highway 284 between Gravely Lane in the north and Dry Gulch Road in the south. Highway 284 remains open. Residents of Upper Duck Creek Road, Upper Gurnett Creek Road, Upper Confederate Road, Ambush Drive, Battle Drive and from Upper Gurnett to White’s Gulch east and west of Highway 284 may return to their homes. All areas are currently in pre-evacuation. A mandatory evacuation of six cabins and Big Birch Creek is in place.

The Meagher County Sheriff’s Office issued a pre-evacuation notice for residents on Birky Road and Ramspeck Lane and for Grassy Mountain residents. Due to current and predicted weather and great progress made by firefighters on the Woods Creek Fire, some evacuation statuses have changed in Meagher County.  Effective August 18, the Meagher County Sheriff’s Office has lifted the pre-evacuation for the area east of Camas Creek Road and north of North Fork Woods Gulch Creek to Luppold Road.  On the east side of the fire, the area south of Burt Ranch Road and west of Camas Creek Road has been moved from mandatory to pre-evacuation status.

Closures and Advisories
Areas around the fires are closed for public safety. Please respect the closure signs.

Temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) remain in place on all three fire areas. TFR violations can disrupt aerial firefighting operations and may force fire managers to ground essential aircraft. Wildfires are a no-fly zone for unauthorized aircraft, including drones. If you fly, we can’t. http://knowbeforeyoufly.org

Most of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest is in Stage 2 fire restrictions. There are also closure areas for the Balsinger and Woods Creek fires. See: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/hlcnf/alerts-notices

Stage 1 fire restrictions remain in place for the Custer Gallatin National Forest. There is also a closure area for the American Fork fire. See: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/custergallatin/alerts-notices

The Bureau of Land Management Butte and Lewiston Field Offices issued an area closure for lands affected by the Woods Creek Fire. See: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7649/63667/

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