Montana fires are picking up, and a cold front is expected to bring high winds to the region tomorrow.
The Missoulian reported that the Bitterroot National Forest was staffing three active fires between Sula and Stevensville, all lightning-caused and no more than three acres in size. Crews are being demobilized on the 2,500-acre Chrandal Creek Fire.
According to the Helena Independent Record, the week’s forecast includes dry and warm weather with a chance of thunder and lightning. Paul Nutter, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Great Falls, said the agency’s concerned about fire danger. He said Thursday’s weather will include gusty winds and continued dry conditions, with temperatures in the 80s. July precipitation was only 0.6 inches — normal is 1.12 inches.
Aerial scouts with the Lolo National Forest flew parts of the Scapegoat Wilderness on Tuesday, looking for hikers in the path of a new wilderness fire showing a high potential for growth. The Missoulian reported that the Falls Point Fire grew to 300 acres on Monday and was burning actively Tuesday in the North Fork of the Blackfoot River drainage about 13 miles north of Ovando.
The Northern Rockies Coordination Center noted numerous new fires in the last 48 hours. Smokejumpers were assigned yesterday to the Goblin Gulch Fire southeast of Great Falls. The fire was at 20 acres by late morning and a ‘shot crew was on order. Resources were also ordered for the 100-acre Chain Butte Fire northeast of Lewistown. Kusicko’s Type 2 IMT was ordered in late afternoon for the 100-acre Butler Fire 28 miles northwest of Missoula. Three airtankers and a lead plane were assigned.
The 3,000-acre East Sarpy Fire was reported this morning about 23 miles southwest of Colstrip. Four airtankers and a lead were assigned, with a Type 2 team on order. The Goblin Gulch Fire grew about 160 acres overnight; it has a lead and an airtanker committed, as does the Butler Fire.
Lead 12 and Tanker 40 are assigned to the Bear Hill Fire southwest of Anaconda. Just after noon today a new set of fires was reported. The Rosebud Complex in Rosebud County includes the 2,000-acre Juniper Fire, the 200-acre Butte Fire, and the 150-acre Midnight Fire. Benes’ Type 2 team has been ordered.