September 4, 2012 1:00PM
Contact: Public Affairs Officer: Tod McKay
Phone: 406-363-7122 Cell: 406-531-1130
What: Wildland Fire
Detected: August 30 - Lightning caused
Location: Approx. 7 miles SW of Hamilton – Darby Ranger District
Narrative: The Sawtooth Fire burning in the Bitterroot National Forest has grown to 400 acres. The lightning caused fire is located 7 miles southwest of Hamilton in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, west of Downing Mountain. The fire is approx. 2 miles west of the Downing Mountain Fire that burned in 2010.
The fire grew yesterday to the east, fanned by gusty afternoon winds. This morning, 20 firefighters were flown to a helispot near the fire. They will work today to stop the fire spread and put containment line around the eastern edge to keep it from reaching heavy fuels and timber. A temporary ‘spike camp’ is being established on the mountain and the crew will camp there tonight.
A second crew will continue to install sprinklers along Sawtooth Creek to raise humidity levels and keep the fire from spreading there.
Current Size: 400 acres
Resources on Fire: Roughly 50 personnel are working on the fire including two (20-person) fire crews. There are also 2 helicopters using buckets to drop water on the fire. Two Type 1 ‘hotshot’ crews (40 firefighters) are in route and will arrive by tomorrow.
Terrain: Remote, extremely steep and rugged terrain with heavy fuels. Fire is burning in grass and timber (lodgepole pine) near an Avalanche chute.
Fire Activity: Creeping with some isolated torching
Closures: Trail #123 (Sawtooth Creek) is currently closed due to active wildfire conditions.
Type 2 Team: Tom Heintz ‘s Northern Rockies Incident Management Team will take over management of the Sawtooth Fire at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow. There is a fire camp currently being set-up along West Side Road.
Special Messages: Today’s air quality in Hamilton is listed as Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups – people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion. For the latest air quality information visit www.rc.mt.gov or call County Environmental Health at 406-375-6565.
Safety Concerns: Safety of firefighters is a primary concern. The fire is remote and burning in extremely steep, rugged terrain with nearby heavy fuels, thereby posing a safety risk to firefighters and a challenge for building conventional fire line.
Fire Information: A fire information trailer is located south of Hamilton along Highway 93 across from Roaring Lion. It will be open from noon to 8pm daily with the latest fire information, area closures and maps. For more information visit www.inciweb.org.