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Alice Creek Fire Information - Sept. 6

(INCIWEB) - At 9:23 a.m this morning, the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office issued an urgent reminder that mandatory evacuations remain in effect for all residents of Elk Meadows, northeast of Lincoln, MT.  This also includes all residents along Highway 200 between mile marker 93 through mile marker 97 due to an increased threat from the growing Alice Creek Fire.

As of 10p.m. last night, residents only of Landers Fork, Elk Trail Park and Alice Creek were allowed to return to their homes under the condition they were ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Heavy equipment is working in this area. Residents are encouraged to avoid the area if possible. If returning, firefighters ask residents to please drive carefully and slowly and to not impede heavy equipment.

Residents in the Dearborn subdivision are NOT on a pre-evacuation notice.

AUGUSTA, MT – Warm and dry conditions overnight did not help firefighters working the night shift. Night operations saw a glow in the head of Green Creek where fire dribbled above the edge of Elk Meadows subdivision. To be proactive, firefighters turned on sprinklers and staffed engines to keep the fire behavior reduced as much as possible. This is a high priority area that firefighters are focusing on today; concentrating water drops when aircraft become available.

Night crews were also trying to control fire at the confluence of Tom’s Gulch and Alice Creek last night.  A 50 acre spot fire that is consuming 12-16 inch logs in heavy dead timber was detected yesterday northwest of Glen Gulch. An engine and a handcrew are leaning again aerial support to keep the fire cool until access to the area can be safely established.

In Tom’s Gulch, dozers, feller bunchers and structure protection engines are constructing containment lines north, working their way up Alice Mountain ridges. On the west side of Alice Creek Road, fire is backing down towards the road.  Once the fire hits the road, firefighters will be able to use the road as a containment line. Meanwhile, surface fire is working its way down Telephone Gulch.

The area is heavy timbered and hazardous due to numerous snags along the road. This adds complexity and risk to firefighters using heavy machinery to cut and move timber. Two feller bunchers are removing hazardous trees and dozers will work to slow the fire’s spread.

Aircraft are a key asset in minimizing the fire’s growth. In the past 10 days, over 736,000 gallons of water have been dropped over the fire. Water takes the heat out of soils, increases humidity in the environment and lowers the surrounding temperatures. By changing the micro-climate of the timber, firefighters are given more time to construct containment line further away from the fire’s edge.

Due to a high pressure system building this week, a heavy smoke inversion is blanketing the area, socking in aircraft that depends on clean air provide lift to aircraft located at the Helena Air Center and Great Falls, MT. When the inversion lifts, a fixed wing aircraft will provide eyes in the sky to guide helicopters to areas that need water drops. Meteorologists anticipate light wind on the ridges today with terrain driven winds. Fire behavior will show groups of trees torching. As the day heats up, the fire will begin to make short uphill runs.

Fire managers are working closely with ranchers and the Montana Department of Natural Resources Conservation fire management personnel to identify the best options for placing containment lines on private property to minimize temporary damages that heavy machinery may cause. When the threat of the fire passes, containment lines will be repaired to reduce scars on the landscape.

The Fire is now 22,149 acres and 0% contained. This was a 756 acre growth.

A Red Cross Shelter is on standby at the Wolf Creek Elementary School (150 Walsh St, Wolf Creek, MT). Area residents that may need assistance are encouraged to contact Red Cross at 1-800-272-6668.

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