Sunrise Fire spreads closer to Quartz, Montana

Above: 3-D map of the Sunrise Fire showing the perimeter at 12:30 a.m. MDT Jul 29, 2017.

(Originally published at 10:36 a.m. MDT July 29, 2017)

The Sunrise Fire continued to grow closer to the small community of Quartz, Montana on Friday, spreading east 1.2 miles on the southeast side closing in on Whisky Gulch Road to come within 1.0 to 1.3 miles of the Clark Fork River. It started July 16 in the Lolo National Forest 39 miles northwest of Missoula and 6 miles south of Riverbend.

The fire added another 1,200 acres on Friday expanding to about 5,500 acres as of the 12:30 a.m. mapping flight Saturday. One spot fire was found 0.4 miles ahead of the fire on the southeast side.

Sunrise Fire
Sunrise Fire photo by Phil Milette, undated.

The Mineral County Sheriff added Quartz Creek to the list of evacuated areas which also includes Sunrise Creek and Quartz Flats.

Resources assigned to the fire: 14 hand crews, 5 dozers, 18 engines, 4 helicopters, 14 water tenders, 4 Skidgens, and 1 Masticator for a total of 522 personnel.

The weather forecast for the fire area for Saturday predicts temperatures in the mid-90s, relative humidity in the high teens, with winds out of the south switching to the northwest at 2 to 5 mph.

Sunrise Fire
Firefighters on the Sunrise Fire apply protective wrap to historic structure. Photo by Todd McDivitt, undated.

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

Sunrise Fire west of Missoula adds another 600 acres

Above: Safety Officer Breck Hudson speaks at the Sunrise Fire operational period briefing. Undated photo by Jennifer Russell.

(Originally published at 10:33 a.m. MDT July 28,2017)

The Sunrise Fire in Western Montana has continued to spread over the last two days at a moderate pace, eating up another 500 to 1,000 acres each day 39 miles northwest of Missoula and 6 miles south of Riverbend.

At the time of the last mapping flight Thursday night it had grown by about 600 acres in the previous 24 hours to a total of approximately 4,300 acres. As on previous days, most of the spread was on the east side where it is now about 2 miles west of the Clark Fork River. In that area the fire at times has been exhibiting extreme fire behavior with long-range spotting taking place.

It has the highest priority ranking of the 28 large fires in the Northern Rockies Geographic Area, which means Shawn Pearson’s Northern Rockies Type 2 Incident Management Team would be at the top of the list to obtain the firefighting resources they need. As of Thursday evening the resources assigned included 13 hand crews, 12 fire engines, and 4 helicopters for a total of 443 personnel.

Map sunrise fire
Map of the Sunrise Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 10:30 p.m. MDT July 27, 2017. The white line was the perimeter about 48 hours earlier. Click to enlarge.

Not a great deal of information is available about the fire, but as of mid-day on Thursday an evacuation was in effect for Quartz Flats, and the Quartz Flats Campgrounds off Interstate 90 Eastbound and Westbound are either closed or under evacuation orders.

Friday’s weather forecast for the fire area calls for 87 degrees, 21 percent relative humidity, and northwest winds of 5 to 7 mph. About the same conditions are predicted for Saturday.

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

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.