Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Two Large Fires Burning in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

As a result of lightning strikes in the past week several fires have been ignited on the Flathead National Forest, including two large fires in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

The Rapid Creek Fire grew rapidly from the initial size of approximately 1/4 acre to currently more than 3,000 acres. The fire started in the upper Rapid Creek drainage and is burning in heavy timber that includes areas that were killed by mountain pine beetle. The fire has burned into the Lewis and Clark National Forest. As of noon Monday, July 30th, the fire had joined the Elbow Pass Fire. A third fire (Triple Divide Fire) is burning in the same area, and all three are now known as the Elbow Pass Complex.

A management team took command of the Elbow Pass Complex yesterday, and is being managed for suppression, but rough terrain and unfavorable weather conditions are limiting the amount of resources that can be deployed safely. Fire manages are using water bucket drops.

There are trail closures in place for public and fire fighter safety:

* Wood Lake Campground and Picnic Area - Closed for public safety because of helicopter operations

* Petty Crown Trail #232 to junction with Trail #244

* Petty Ford Creek Trail #244 to its junction with Trail #232

* Crown Mountain Trail #270 in its entirety

* Straight Creek Trail #212 from the trailhead south to its junction with Halfmoon Creek Trail #216

* Patrol Mountain Trail #213 in its entirety

* Green Fork Trail #228 from its junction with Straight Creek Trail #212 to junction with Halfmoon Creek Trail #216

* South Fork Trail #202 from its junction with Hoadley Creek Trail #226 south to trail end

Although the latest update doesn't mention it, these trails were closed yesterday, and are likely still closed:

* Rapid Creek Trail # 139
* Fiction Creek Trail # 272
* Obervation Pass Trail # 246
* South Fork of the Sun Trail # 202
* Ellis Creek Trail # 227.

The other major wildfire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, known as the Prisoner Lake Fire, was detected on July 30th. This fire is being managed for suppression. The fire has burned 3024 acres. Fire behavior has been moderate with no significant growth in the past 24 hours. Isolated single tree torching and burning of unburned areas within the interior of the fire occurred yesterday.

Trails in the area have been closed for public safety. Closed trails due to this fire include:

* Trail #138 Molly Creek Trail, from the junction with the White River Trail #112 to White River Pass

* Trail #380 South Fork of White River, from the junction with Trail #138 to its end

* Trail #626 Haystack Mountian, from the junction with Trail #138 to Haystack Mountain.

Closed trails on the Lewis and Clark National Forest:

* Trail #211 Indian Creek, from White River Pass to the junction with Trail #203, West Fork of the South Fork Sun River.

Both fires currently are rated as having a high potential for growth. To stay up to date on all fires in Montana, please click here. To visit the Flathead National Forest, please click here.

Hikes in Glacier National Park

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