Montana Wildfire Roundup For September 18, 2017

Sep 18, 2017
Originally published on September 18, 2017 3:58 pm

Wet, cool weather over the weekend has helped calm fire behavior in western Montana, and some evacuation orders and warnings have been canceled this morning.

According to the Sanders County Sheriff's Office, all evacuation notices for the Highway 200 Complex fires have been lifted. All areas in the evacuation and pre-evacuation area are all now considered under pre-evacuation notice until otherwise notified by the sheriff's office.

Although the weather has turned considerably colder and wetter, there are still many areas with closure orders in place. Firefighters are still working to control these fires that have uncontrolled firelines and several other hazards. Find maps of the closures for the Highway 200 complex here.

On the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake firefighters continued mop up and patrol from the northwest side of the fire south and east to Monture Cabin. Excavators continued fire suppression repair of dozer lines interior to the fire lines east of the town of Seeley Lake and on the Morrell Lookout Road. Excess fire personnel are starting to leave the fire as the organization downsizes to appropriate strength for the work that remains on the fire area. Night operations have been discontinued.

All Evacuation Zones in Powell County north of Highway 200 between the Missoula County line on the west and the Lewis and Clark County line on the east, and that portion of Zone 5 near Seeley Lake that is in Powell County remain under Evacuation Warning.

Closures on the Lolo Nation forest due the Rice Ridge Fire have been rescinded. Closures on BLM land in the area have also been rescinded. That includes land in the Marcum Mountain, Arrastra Creek, Kershaw Mountain, and Patterson Prairie area, and generally BLM lands north of Highway 200, east of Cooper's Lake/Dry Creek road, and west of the Helena - Lewis and Clark National Forest, Lincoln Ranger District.

Missoula County evacuation warnings: All Evacuation Zones near Seeley Lake remain under Evacuation Warning.

There will be public meetings for the Rice Ridge Fire tonight in Seeley Lake at 6 p.m. at the Mission Bible Fellowship Church, 3158 Highway 83; and Tuesday in Ovando at 6 p.m. at the Ovando Elementary School Gym, 108 Birch Street.

On the Sprague Fire burning in Glacier National Park, the fire has been active, despite cooler, wetter weather.

Structure protection continues in the Lake McDonald Lodge and North Lake McDonald area: Sprinklers and water handling equipment remain in place around the Lake McDonald Lodge complex and will be utilized as needed. Pumps and hose lay systems have been installed in the Avalanche Creek Campground, Trail of the Cedars area and North McDonald Lake area. Hazard tree removal near the Sprague and Avalanche Creek Campground will continue to ensure safe areas for fire operations. The Wheeler Cabin and Mount Brown Lookout are wrapped. Crews will continue structure assessment in Apgar Village. Night crews continue to monitor the fire throughout the night.

An evacuation order remains in place from the south end of Lake McDonald north to Logan Pass. This includes the North McDonald Road. The duration of the evacuation is unknown at this time.

Most areas of the park remain open: The Going-to-the-Sun Road from Saint Mary to Logan Pass, Two Medicine, Many Glacier, and Apgar are currently open. Please check the park website for current conditions as weather may impact closures:

On the Sapphire Complex SE of Missoula, fire officials say that due to rainfall, there is minimal threat around private property and structures. Operations will emphasize removal of equipment and rehabilitation. Any areas of smoldering fuels will be mopped up.

Closures are in place to protect the public from potential harm from wildfires and firefighting operations.

Sapphire Complex: Rock Creek Road IS open from I-90 south to Bitterroot Campground (MM23.5) and closed between Bitterroot Campground and Stony Creek. The Forest area closure is bounded by area landmarks: Grizzly (Forest Road 4296), south to Bitterroot Campground, southeast to Cornish Gulch (Forest Road 5027), northeast to Horse Canyon, north to Long John Creek to McDermott. Access in these areas is limited to private property owners only.

The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest reduced closure restrictions in the Black Pine ridge area, but maintains all area closures in Upper Willow Creek, North Fork Lower Willow Creek, and Harvey Creek areas. Areas closed around the Little Hogback Fire include lands that are west of Upper Willow Creek, north of Scotchman Gulch, and south of Mountain Spring. Lands east of Upper Willow Creek in the Long John Creek, Rattling Gulch, Tipperary Creek, and Cordurory Creek drainages are also included.

Upper Willow Creek Road remains closed to the public with limited access for private property owners only. The Lolo National Forest still has area closures east and north of Rock Creek Road, south of I-90 and east to the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest boundary.

The Bureau of Land Management has an area closure in Upper Willow Creek, Ram Mountain, and nearby areas. The Lolo and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Montana Department of Natural Resources (DNRC) closure orders and maps are posted under the closures tab on Inciweb. The temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been lifted for the Sapphire Complex

Meyers Fire: The temporary flight restriction (TFR) has been lifted for the Meyers Fire. Bitterroot National Forest emergency closure orders are still in effect for upper areas of the East Fork Bitterroot River. The expanded Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest closure has been amended to open some areas including those in the Wisdom District. The Middle Fork and Meadow Creek areas remain closed. Stage 1 fire restrictions have been rescinded in the following areas near the Meyers Fire: Beaverhead County and Granite County south of I-90 and east of the Lolo National Forest boundary. Outdoor debris and pile burning are still prohibited. For fire restriction details, visit

Near the Lolo Peak Fire, no evacuation orders or warnings are in effect, and highways are open. Some closures remain in effect on portions of the Bitteroot, Lolo, and Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.

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