September 3, 2012 11:00AM
Contact: Public Affairs Officer: Tod McKay
Phone: 406-363-7122 Cell: 406-531-1130
What: Wildland Fire
Detected: August 30 - Lightning caused
Location: Approx. 5 miles west of Hamilton – Darby Ranger District
Narrative: The Sawtooth Fire burning on the Darby Ranger District of the Bitterroot National Forest remains at 310 acres this morning. The lightning caused fire is located five miles west of Hamilton in the Bitterroot Mountains near Downing Mountain. The fire is approx. 2 miles southwest of the Downing Mountain Fire that burned in 2010.
Today fire crews will install sprinkler systems along the fire’s western edge to keep the fire from spreading into Canyon Creek where there are heavy fuels and dense timber. The fire continues to move to the west, away from town. It is burning in extremely steep and rugged terrain, on the top of the ridge which is making access difficult for fire crews.
Current Size: 310 acres
Resources on Fire: There are currently 2 helicopters using buckets to drop water on the fire today. Two crews (40 firefighters) will work to install sprinkler systems and build containment line to stop the fire spread and keep it from reaching heavy fuels and timber. An additional Type 1 ‘hotshot’ crew has been ordered. A Type 2 incident management team has also been ordered.
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.
Safety Concerns: Safety of firefighters is a primary concern. The fire is remote and burning in steep, rugged terrain with nearby heavy fuels, thereby posing a safety risk to firefighters and a challenge for building conventional fire line. Heavy fuels, difficult access, and the weather are a dangerous combination on this fire.
Weather: Forecast calls for continued warm and dry weather all week creating conditions for fire growth. Current conditions are extremely dry and the potential for fire spread is very high. According to National Weather Service, August was one of the driest months on record in Western Montana (since 1948) with Missoula only receiving 0.16” inches of rainfall.
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.
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.