Evacuations ordered for the Sunrise Fire in Western Montana

The communities of Quartz Flats and Sunrise northwest of Missoula are affected by the order, according to the Mineral County Sheriff’s office.

Above: Map showing the perimeter of the Sunrise Fire, at 11:30 p.m. MDT July 26, 2017.

(Originally published at 9:06 a.m. MDT July 27, 2017)

Most of the wildfires in Western Montana within 70 miles of Missoula that we wrote about Tuesday were relatively quiet Wednesday night. The exception was the Sunrise Fire 39 miles northwest of Missoula and 6 miles south of Riverbend.

At the time of an 11:30 p.m. MDT mapping flight the fire was very active on the northeast side and had added 948 acres during the previous 24 hours to bring the total number of acres burned up to 3,686. The fire is threatening about 60 homes and cabins.

Wednesday afternoon the Mineral County Sheriff’s office ordered the evacuation “in an orderly manner” of Sunrise and Quartz Flats.

On Thursday firefighters are working on dozer lines around structures in the Sunrise Creek subdivision and plan to improve the structure protection in Quartz Creek, Quartz Flat, and Sunrise Creek.

The video below was shot Wednesday evening by KECI, apparently from the Incident Command Post.

An executive order signed by the Governor of Montana Sunday will enable the state to mobilize National Guard helicopters (Blackhawks and CH47), some firefighters, and kitchens. It also makes it possible for local governments to access the Governor’s emergency fund if they have enacted their own 2 mil levy.

All articles about the Sunrise Fire can be found HERE, with the most recent at the top of the page.

Large fires hit areas in Portugal and France

Above: Satellite photo showing smoke created by a fire in France, July 26, 2017. The red dots represent heat.

(Originally published at 8 p.m. MDT [UTC -6] July 26, 2017)
(Revised at 9:36 a.m. MDT July 27, 2017)

Wildfires in France and Portugal are disrupting the lives of thousands of residents and tourists. Each country has multiple large fires, but one of the largest in France is near the Mediterranean coast 77 km (48 miles) east of Marseille between La Londe-les-Maures and Le Lavandou and has forced the evacuation of about 12,000 people.

Mistral winds spread the fires quickly causing 60 people to be evacuated by boat while others spent the night in gyms, public places, or on the beach.

There was also a 2,000-hectare  (4,950-acre) fire on the French island of Corsica.

More than 1,000 firefighters are working on wildfires throughout the country.

fire in Portugal satellite photo
Satellite photo of smoke created by a fire in Portugal, July 26, 2017. The red dots represent heat. Click to enlarge.

Portugal is also struggling to contain a group of fires about 152 km (94 miles) northeast of Lisbon. It was just five weeks ago that a wildfire southeast of Coimbra, Portugal killed at least 62 people, most of whom were attempting to escape in their vehicles. Those fires were about 63 km northwest of the current blazes that are south of Perdigao burning in dense pine and in some cases non-native eucalyptus plantations. Many areas around the world grow eucalyptus in order to harvest the wood, leaves, and oil to make paper and medicine. But wildfires burn rapidly under them and through the tree crowns. Earlier this year we took this photo after a fire in Chile spread through a plantation.

wildfire eucalyptus plantation
The aftermath of a wildfire that burned through a eucalyptus plantation in Chile, February 2, 2017.

About 2,000 firefighters with 700 vehicles are battling wildfires around Portugal.  As in France, the fires are being pushed by strong winds.

Portugal’s fire season usually begins after July 1 but it got an early start this year.

50+ fires on Modoc National Forest

(Originally published at 11:29 a.m. PDT July 26, 2017)

Firefighters on the Modoc National Forest in Northeastern California are dealing with the aftermath of lightning activity that left, at last count, approximately 51 fires. The actual number is a little nebulous because they have not been able to locate all that have been reported and it is likely that others will be discovered in coming days.

All of the articles about the Modoc July Complex of fires can be found here, with the most recent at the top. 

The responsibility to manage 25 to 30 of the fires has been delegated to the Northern California Interagency Incident Management Team II which assumed command Tuesday of fires within a specific geographic area. The team will handle the fires north and east of Highway 139 and north and west of Highways 299 and 395.

The map below shows the location of fires within the team’s responsibility area that were large and hot enough to be detected during a 1:30 a.m. PDT mapping flight Wednesday morning.

 Modoc National Forest lightning fires
Map showing the location of some of the larger wildfires on the Modoc National Forest at 1:30 a.m. PDT July 26, 2017.

Rain Tuesday night slowed activity on many of the fires, but there is a Red Flag Warning in effect until 11 p.m. Wednesday predicting abundant lightning which will be followed by warmer weather on Thursday and through the weekend.

wildfire red flag warning
Red Flag Warning areas for Wednesday, July 26, 2017.


Containment increases on Lodgepole Complex of fires

Above: The Lodgepole Complex of fires. Uncredited photo posted to Inciweb July 23, 2017. 

(Originally published at 9:20 a.m. MDT July 26, 2017)

Firefighters continue to make progress on the Lodgepole Complex of fires in Eastern Montana south of Lake Fort Peck. More accurate mapping shows that the fire has burned a total of 270,000 acres on the four fires, Bridge Coulee, Barker, South Breaks, and Square Butte.

Early Wednesday morning the only large concentrations of intense heat detected by an aircraft were on the north side adjacent to Lake Fort Peck, but a lot of the fire perimeter still does not have completed fireline.

Map Lodgepole Complex fires
Map of the Lodgepole Complex of fires. The red line was the perimeter at 2:30 a.m. MDT July 26, 2017. The white line was the estimated perimeter two days before.

Firefighters have been conducting burnout operations to secure the lines and in some locations have increased the depth along the containment lines by one quarter mile.

The weather on Wednesday is predicted to be warmer and drier with gusty winds out of the south.

(All articles on Wildfire Today about the Lodgepole Fire in Montana are tagged, and can be found at http://wildfiretoday.com/tag/lodgepole-complex/, with the most recent articles at the top.)

Three arrested for stealing fire equipment on Detwiler Fire

The Mariposa County Sheriff’s office announced that three people have been arrested for stealing firefighting equipment on the Detwiler Fire, an 80,000-acre fire between Mariposa and Coulterville, California.

This is one of the more despicable crimes. Congratulations to the Sheriff’s office for making the arrests.

Here is an excerpt from their press release issued July 24, 2017.

stealing from firefighters arrested

All articles about the Detwiler Fire on Wildfire Today can be found here, with the most recent being at the top.

Fuels and fire behavior advisories issued for three areas

 fuels fire advisory

Three areas have issued Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisories that are currently in effect. The advisories are valid for 14 days from the date of issuance.

The documents do not indicate which person, group, or office came up with the information. One of them has the “Predictive Services” logo, but there are many such offices with multiple employees. The others provide no clue how, where, or by whom they originated.

It has been our position that a technical document that relies on scientific data and expertise gained through years of experience, and which recommends specific action be taken, should be signed. Someone needs to have their name(s) attached. Was it put together by an intern, or someone with 35 years of experience? Be brave and convince us that we should take the advice to take action seriously.

Below are screen grabs of the top sections of each document. The entire documents can be seen here: Great Basin, part of the Northern Rockies Geographic Area, and Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon.

To see larger versions of the images below, widen your browser, hold your mobile device horizontally, or click on the images.

Great basin fuels fire advisory

Montana North Dakota South Dakota fuels fire advisory


Washington Oregon fuels fire advisory

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Jim.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.