Three Forks Voice - Connect With Your Community!

By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

Multiple area fires last week


September 11, 2019

Rainy weather moves over the McClusky fire. Smoke from the fire made its way to Three Forks last week. Courtesy photo

It was a busy day for area firefighters last Wednesday.

According to Whitehall Volunteer Fire Chief Jeremy Ward, the department responded to three calls September 4, all in the Milligan Canyon area west of Three Forks.

Ward said the department was first called out Wednesday morning to an accident involving a semi-truck and a contractor striping the road at mile marker 259 on Interstate 90. Ward said the department was called out a short time later on a mutual aid call from the Willow Creek Fire Department Wednesday afternoon to a vehicle fire at mile marker 264. According to Ward, the fire from the vehicle spread to a wildland fire in Milligan Canyon and was estimated to be around 200 acres. Departments from Three Forks, Gallatin County, Jefferson County, Boulder-Bull Mountain, Harrison, Whitehall, Amsterdam and the Montana Highway Patrol were also on scene. Ward added the department was on scene for around four hours with three personnel and two trucks.

The department was called out again later to mile marker to 259 for another vehicle fire. He said the fire was out by the time they arrived.

Smoke from the McClusky Fire near Delmoe Lake was also visible throughout the Whitehall and Three Forks areas last Wednesday and Thursday.

The fire actively burned Thursday afternoon with group torching, spotting, and flanking due to low relative humidity and high winds. The fire spread was to the northeast.

After growing to nearly 3,000 acres last Thursday, the McClusky fire near Whitehall received .9 inches of rain Friday evening.

As of press time, the fire currently estimated to be 2,932 acres, and fire behavior is minimal. Shane Martin, Incident Commander, and Mike King, Incident Commander Trainee, and the Type 3 organization in place transitioned back to a Type 4 Monday.

On Sunday, fire crews continued to build indirect fire lines, mop-up burned areas, and assess suppression repair needs. Fire crews also worked to reduce fuel loads near cultural resources on the northwest side of the fire. Fire crews and the helicopter were also available for initial attack.

Though some resources demobilized Sunday, including the Type 3 organization, there will be Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and other local resources in the area to manage the incident, and continue mopping up, patrolling, and initiating suppression repair work.

Fire managers will continue to monitor weather and changes in fire activity over the next few days, as more rain and cooler temperatures are expected to impact the area. Minimal fire behavior is expected with this projected wet and cool weather pattern.

Standing snags and those hung-up or suspended in adjacent snags pose an excessive safety risk to firefighters. Given the extreme safety risk, fire crews will continue to implement direct and indirect fire suppression tactics where appropriate. At this time, approximately 60% of indirect suppression tactics have been completed, including hose lays, sprinkler set up, burnout operations, handline construction, mop up, chipping, and removal of ladder fuels.

The lightning caused McClusky fire, located three miles northeast of Delmoe Lake and 13 miles northwest of Whitehall was reported on August 16. A total of 74 personnel are assigned to the fire, including, two Type 1 Hotshot crews, four engines, one helicopter, and miscellaneous overhead and support.


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