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, 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.
Fire Complex Completed: 32%
Resources – Total Personnel: 298 Injuries: 1 Structures Lost: None
20-Person Hand Crews: 2 Type-1 and 3 Type-2, 1 Wildland Fire Management Module (8), 1 Helitack Crew (10)
Air Support: Helicopters (2 Type-1 & 2 Type-3), Engines: 11 Heavy Equipment: 9
Cause of Fires: All three active fires have been determined to be lightening 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 has been placed back 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 for Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest. For more info, see the Glacier NP page http://www.nps.gov/glac or for Flathead NF call Hungry Horse Ranger District (406) 387-3800 or go to http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/4468/28364/.
Low pressure weather patterns will continue to affect the area thru the weekend. Today, temperatures will be in the 60s with humidity at 25-35%. Winds are out of the West-Southwest at 15-20 mph gusting to 30. There is a 70% chance of rain tonight. Continued minimal fire activity through the weekend is expected.
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 showed little activity yesterday. Firefighters continued to build fireline and put out hotspots in the Sheep Creek and Tank Creek drainages. Work on shaded fuelbreaks designed to create defensible space in the Essex area is complete. Logs and slash created by this effort are being moved to a safe location. Structural protection measures are in place in Essex. A night shift will continue to monitor fire movement and patrol the Essex area.