The month of September saw a mere 0.25 inches of precipitation in the Libby Valley with 10 degree above normal average high temperatures. The fires at this time are primarily burning in rough, inaccessible terrain away from private property and homes.
Fire managers are continually monitoring the fire growth and activity by aircraft and ground patrol. Firefighters continue to improve contingency fire lines if the fire moves toward private land and homes.
· On Mount Snowy side, the fire has progressed to the south towards Snow Creek. The fire behavior experienced is predominately a backing and flanking fire with minimal flame lengths characterized by creeping and smoldering. There is very limited scorch and mortality in the overstory trees.
· On Treasure Mountain side, the fire is backing down the main ridge to the east/southeast towards Horse Creek. Fire activity is characterized by backing and flanking while exhibiting flame lengths of six inches to two feet.
With the fire backing its way to within 30 yards of the Granite Lake Trailhead, a new closure order is being enacted with the support of Lincoln County officials to provide for public and fire fighter safety by closing the Granite Lake Road at the Horse Creek Bridge.
Also the Smearl Fire, located in the Leigh Lake area, was reported two days ago and is suspected to be human caused, possibly a warming fire that wasn’t put out completely. The fire is approximately 160 acres and is actively spreading at night. Most of the growth is topography driven, but windy conditions predicted through the weekend could cause it to spread further.
An 18-person crew from the Helena National Forest is on its way to the KNF today and a Type III Team comprised of district resources will take over management of the fire tomorrow. Four helicopters are providing air support and air tankers are being used to drop fire retardant as well.
Fire managers are coordinating with city and county officials to keep the public informed of changing conditions and utilize local resources. As soon as conditions change on the Klatawa Fire or other fires, forest officials will lift the fire restrictions.
Although open burning is in effect, the continuing fire season is a good reminder to use caution when starting any type of fire and make sure all fires are completely extinguished before leaving them unattended.
For additional fire information, please contact your local ranger district or the Supervisor’s Office.