Here’s the morning update for the Thompson-Divide Complex fires, including the Granite, Sheep and Thompson fires.
The big news continues to be the Sheep Fire (see map below), which triggered an evacuation order for Essex a few days ago. The Essex evacuation order was subsequently lifted and U.S. Route 2 was reopened for traffic using pilot cars to keep things orderly. However, authorities are still edgy about Essex and warned residents to be ready to evacuate on short notice. The arrival of cooler, wetter weather has helped firefighters throughout the region.
Seems like the Sheep Fire should have a scarier name, doesn’t it?
Fire Complex Completed: 38%
Resources – Total Personnel: 262, Injuries: 1 Structures Lost: None
20-Person Hand Crews: 2 Type-1 and 2 Type-2 Air Support: Helicopters (2 Type-1 & 2 Type-3), Engines: 8
Heavy Equipment: 7 Cause of Fires: All three active fires have been determined to be lightning caused.
The Thompson-Divide Complex consists of the Sheep and Granite Fires in the Flathead National Forest and the Thompson Fire in Glacier National Park. The Sheep Fire is the incident priority due to its proximity to US Hwy. 2, BNSF railway and the community of Essex. Crews and equipment will continue to demobilize today as the need diminishes.
The Essex area is in the ‘Set’ Stage of the Ready, Set, Go evacuation model. Residents are advised to remain prepared to evacuate if conditions again warrant this action. For more information, call the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services at (406) 758-2111.
U.S. Highway 2 is open with pilot cars escorting traffic between mileposts 176.5 and 185. Escorted vehicles are not allowed to stop in this area. BNSF and Amtrak trains are running. For current road status, call 511 or visit http://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfo/alerts.shtml. For more information on Amtrak, call (800) 872-7245.
Stage II Fire Restrictions are in effect for the area. Visit http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/ for air quality info.
Closures are in effect for some trails and areas in the vicinity of the fires. As of Sept 1 all of the trails in the Two Medicine and Cutbank Valley are open, including the Dawson-Pitamakan Loop. The Cutbank Pass and Nyack area trails remain closed for visitor safety. Visit http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/hikingthetrails.htm for current information. For more information on Glacier NP closures, please see http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/hikingthetrails.htm or call 405-888-7800 or. For the Flathead National Forest, call Hungry Horse Ranger District (406) 387-3800 or go to http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/4468/28364/.
Sheep and Granite fires received up to .25 inches of rain last night. Low pressure weather patterns will continue to affect the area thru the weekend, with the possibility of air operations being limited by a low ceiling today. Maximum temperatures will be in the low 60s. Winds are forecast to be lighter today, with a 90% chance of showers. Continued minimal fire activity through the weekend is expected due to increased moisture in fuels and weather conditions.
Sheep Fire, Flathead National Forest Link to http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4468/
Structures At Risk: 200+ structures, BNSF has several wooden snowsheds and 1 trestle, utilities infrastructure
Approximate Size: 2,171 acres Structures Lost: None
Fire Update: The Sheep Fire is on the Flathead National Forest and burning in very steep terrain with limited access. The fire is about 1 mile south of Essex and about 1/8 mile from the train tracks between Tank Creek and McDonald Creek. The fire again showed little activity yesterday. Firefighters will continue to patrol and put out hotspots in the Sheep Creek and Tank Creek drainages and remove hoses and pumps from the snowshed and rail yard in Essex. Structural protection measures are in place in Essex.
Granite Fire, Flathead National Forest Link to http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4468/
Approximate Size: 913 acres
Fire Update: The Granite Fire is located west of Marias Pass and south of U.S. Hwy. 2. The fire started in the Great Bear Wilderness and has moved north out of the Wilderness. There has been little fire activity the past few days. One engine and crew are using existing roads to monitor the fire’s activity.
Thompson Fire, Glacier National Park Link to http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4468/
Approximate Size: 18,845 acres Structures At Risk: 2 historic cabins Structures Lost: None
Fire Update: The Thompson Fire is located in remote southern backcountry of Glacier National Park about 15 miles east of the West Glacier entrance in the Thompson and Nyack drainages west of the Continental Divide. Monitoring of fire activity will continue with aircraft.
Most of Glacier National Park is unaffected by this wildfire complex and is available for recreational use. The Thompson Fire has not impacted park roads. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is open.