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Crown Mountain Fire

Unit Information

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

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October 13 update

Crown Mountain Fire Wildfire
News – 10/13/2021

Quick Facts:

  • Location: 16 miles west of Augusta, MT, in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest 
  • Detected: October 4, 2021
  • Cause: under investigation
  • Current size: 1368 acres 
  • Containment: 0%
  • Ownership/Jurisdiction: Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest

Fire Summary:

The Crown Mountain Fire started within the Forest boundary of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest some 16 miles west of Augusta, MT, in the northeast corner of quadrant 26. Local resources engaged with full suppression actions maintaining the safety of fire personnel and the public as the number one priority. During the initial three days, gusty winds, unseasonably high temperatures, and dry conditions resulted in active fire behavior and dangerous firefighting conditions for direct attack on the fire. These circumstances forced air and ground crews to disengage from the fire on 10/5 and 10/6. The fire is burning within portions of the footprint of the 1988 Canyon Creek Fire. Fire personnel installed point protection on threatened ranches adjacent to the Forest boundary in Smith Creek as well as in the Benchmark corridor to include Double Falls recreational cabins and structures in the Ford Creek area. The containment withstood winds exceeding 50mph on 10/9 and 10/10 ahead of a cold front that moved in. From 10/11 until present cooler conditions have prevailed with 2 inches of snow falling on the fire area on 10/12. The fire is burning in steep, rugged terrain and fueled by regenerated Lodgepole pine and heavy stands of Douglas fir. Light smoke is occasionally visible from Choteau, Augusta, and along Montana State Highway 287. Please be cautious of fire traffic working in and around Augusta, Smith Creek, and the Benchmark Corridor.

Current Situation:

Fire activity over the past 48 hours was limited to minimal smoldering and creeping in response to the 2” of snowfall, cooler temperatures, and decreased winds. Crews remain vigilant to activate all the point protection equipment if fire activity necessitates in Smith Creek and the Benchmark corridor. Additionally, crews continue to realize success in their containment priority of preventing further northward movement beyond Petty Creek and any eastward movement toward the Forest boundary in Smith Creek. Resources available today include: 1 type-2, and 1 type-3 helicopter, 2 interagency hotshot crews, 1 dozer, 1 skidgeon, and 6 engines. There are 89 personnel assigned.

Weather: Over the next few days area temperatures will rise into the high 40s and low 50s, with nighttime temperatures dipping to the high 20s low 30s, and winds not exceeding 19mph. There is a 12 percent chance for precipitation tonight, followed with a general drying trend over the next several days. The extended forecast reveals a drying trend with the first expectation of significant snowfall occurring in early November.

Area and Trail Closures:

For the public’s safety an area closure is in effect:

Description of Area Closure
 
West Boundary – Scapegoat Wilderness Area
 North Boundary – Ridgeline from Wilderness Boundary to Ford Creek to Benchmark Road (225) to Administrative Boundary
 East Boundary – Administrative Boundary of National Forest Lands
 South Boundary – Weasel Creek Trail 245 

 Trails within the Closure:

 
Trail Name  Crown Mountain  Jakie Creek  Moudess Creek  Petty Crown  Petty Crown Connector  Petty-Ford Creek  Smith Creek  Weasel Creek  

Double Falls Campgrounds 

Elk Creek Road Closure:   Elk Creek Road is closed while Lewis and Clark County completes a bridge replacement project. The project is expected to be completed by November 15, 2021.  Please note, there is no correlation between this closure and the Crown Mountain Fire.   The bridge project is located 6.1 miles up Elk Creek Road from Hwy 435 and the road will be closed to all vehicle traffic beyond that point for the duration of the work. In 2018, a significant flood event damaged three of five bridges located near the end of Elk Creek Road which is maintained by Lewis and Clark County. This is the last of the three bridges to be replaced. Work on the other two bridges was completed in 2020.  Elk Creek Road, located approximately 6.5 miles from Augusta, serves as access US Forest Service land. Hunters using Elk Creek Road to gain access to US Forest Service land beyond the project area are advised to plan for impacts.  For any further information about the Elk Creek Road Bridge Replacement, contact Dan Karlin at (406) 447-8034.