Type 1 and 2 teams ordered to respond to western Montana wildfires

map Roaring Lion Fire

Above: Map of the Roaring Lion Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 3:07 a.m. MDT August 1. The red squares represent heat detected by a satellite at 2:31 p.m. MDT August 1, 2016, showing expansion of the fire to the northwest.

Click HERE to see the most current information on Wildfire Today about the Roaring Lion Fire.

(Update 5:52 p.m. MDT, August 1, 2016)

The Roaring Lion fire in the Bitterroot National Forest outside of Hamilton, Montana has destroyed several structures, although officials have yet to confirm how many, according to posts on InciWeb.

Five hundred homes remain under evacuation notice, and on Monday the fire had burned more than 3,000 acres.

Crews made some gains establishing a fireline on Sunday night, and were aided by 5 helicopters on Monday, according to InciWeb:

Last night, dozer and hand crews were able to punch in containment lines in a good portion of the East side of the fire. They were also able to put out multiple spot fires around residences.

The Type 1 team is expected to take over operations on Tuesday.  The cause of the fire remains unknown.

map Roaring Lion Fire
Map of the Roaring Lion Fire at 3:07 a.m. MDT August 1, 2016. Click to enlarge.

Fanned by hot winds, the Roaring fire exploded in a massive plume of smoke on Sunday. Visit InciWeb to see more photos of the fire. Also, check out this time-lapse video of the fire (note: it will take about 20 seconds for images of the fire to start).

Roaring Lion fire, July 31, 2016
Roaring Lion fire, July 31, 2016

Meanwhile, the Copper King fire in the Lolo National Forest continues to burn, although it has not prompted any evacuations. On Sunday, the fire shut down Montana Highway 200, which officials reopened on Monday.


Two wildfires ignited in western Montana on Sunday, prompting evacuations and the shutdown of a U.S. highway.

A Type I incident management team has been ordered to respond to the Roaring Lion fire, which as of Sunday evening had already burned 2,000 acres outside of Hamilton.

A Type II team will be responding to the Copper King fire near Thompson Falls.

Here are some overview details for both fires:

Roaring Lion, Bitterroot National Forest:

  • Residents in 500 homes evacuated, or warned that they should be prepared to evacuate.
  • 3 Hot Shot crews; a hand crew from the Bitterroot National Forest
  • 5 helicopters, one airtanker
  • US Highway 93 has been closed
  • All personnel planning to work through the night to establish containment lines once the wind dies down.
  • Strong winds in the area.

Copper King, Lolo National Forest:

  • 2 helicopters, one Single Engine Air Tanker and on Air Attack fixed-wing aircraft.
  • No structures threatened, and no evacuations, but the fire is very visible from Montana Highway 200.
  • As of Sunday night, the fire had burned 200 acres.
  • Strong gusty winds in the area.

Much of western Montana (including the two counties where the fires are, Sanders and Ravalli) has been abnormally dry or experiencing a moderate drought for the month of July, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

U.S. Drought Monitor, Montana

3 thoughts on “Type 1 and 2 teams ordered to respond to western Montana wildfires”

  1. Roaring Lion: Ordered the team but did someone forget the initial attack? News reporting that five (5) air tankers are on hold waiting for a lead plane from R-6. Shane on me; who believes the news anymore. (exception Wildfire Today)

    1. Johnny – IA was a Copter and engine crews from Hamilton FD and USFS at Darby RS. Look at the on-scene time lapse photos and you’ll see that they were overwhelmed from the start.
      And as for the A/T’s waiting for a Lead, that’s the norm. Multiple A/C in a limited airspace with out command & control is a design for disaster. That’s why we have Air Attack and Lead planes. Not all A/T pilots are IA qualified.
      A/C got shut down early-on because of winds, too.
      IA crews, local Departments and 3 Hotshot crews did lots of good work all nite under local direction.
      Sometimes Mother Nature does what she wants!

  2. Some things change, something remain the same. Having worked in R 1 on the ground and in the air (’60 ’70’s) the statement about waiting for a lead does remind me how non progressive R 1 continues to look at fire. The reason I commented about the article was not as an air conditioned soft chair quarterback; but from experience. When a Type I or II team is assigned usually limited success will be accomplished until the team arrives and has time to develop a real plan. There is the time-warp. The I.A. people are “fries-burned out” having tried their best. This is the period where the aircraft play a huge role in attempting to accomplish protection of structures and supporting lines already established. Waiting for the team to arrive isn’t unique to R 1. As for pilots not being I.A. carded that is straight out of the early ’60’s. (A 26, B 17 4Y). Does it seem right to have four air tankers on the ground while structures are being loss? Maybe R 1 should card (I.A.) air crews. Air tanker pilots are pretty good at keeping track of each other. A lead is wonderful for guiding tankers to the target.

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