Warm, dry and windy conditions last night kept firefighters busy, especially in the Elk Meadows/Evergreen and Silver King Lake areas, as well as in the Telephone Gulch and Green Mountain areas where the fire continues to move downhill towards structures. Firefighters worked hotspots in these areas. Sprinklers were set up in strategic locations to wet the area and lower temperatures as much as possible. The predicted cold front moved over the fire area at approximately 4:00 a.m. bringing increased winds, but also higher relative humidity (Rh) and cooler temperatures. This higher Rh and cooler temperatures will remain over the fire today.
While temperatures have dropped and Rh has increased, the continued dry fuels and windy conditions, coupled with steep terrain equate to extreme conditions that may produce crowning fire and the potential to produce spot fires up to a half mile ahead of the main fire. The use of Very Large Air Tankers (VLATs), Large Air Tankers and Super Scooper (CL415) is expected today if the fire pushes Highway 200, and/or the area in the vicinity of Silver King Lake. Helicopter bucket work will continue throughout the day.
On the north side of the fire, dozers and skidgens are continuing to work in the Falls Creeks area to construct direct and indirect fire line from Falls Creek drainage, east to Falls Creek Ridge to prevent further fire spread to the north.
Personnel are using all available equipment to respond to the fire’s movements that immediately threatens infrastructure. Dozers, skidgens and feller bunchers (“clippers”) are improving existing roads across the entire southern and eastern flanks. These roads are serving as fire lines to help protect communities, ranches and other private property near the fire.
Russ Bird’s Great Basin Team 5 transferred command of the fire to Kim Martin’s Great Basin Team 2 at 6 a.m. this morning. The Augusta Incident Command Post (ICP) has been closed, and the ICP has been established at the old Hoon Spike camp – the Hoon ICP.
Highway 200 and all other major routes in the fire area remain open, but can be closed at a moment’s notice if fire activity requires closure –Check the Montana Department of Transportation website for travel updates. Follow the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s and the Helena - Lewis & Clark National Forests Facebook pages for updates.
A Red Cross shelter is on standby at the Wolf Creek elementary school, 150 Walsh Street. Area residents that may need assistance are encouraged to contact Red Cross at 800-272-6668. Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for residents between mile makers 92 and highway 434 – along highway 200 on both sides of the road. Elk Meadows/Evergreen subdivisions are under mandatory evacuation notices. Landers Fork, Elk Trail Park and Alice Creek community areas are under a “pre-evacuation” notice.