Despite challenging conditions Thursday with wind gusts over 60 miles per hour, officials reported Friday morning the Willow Creek Fire near Three Forks remained at 350 acres.
At a stakeholder meeting Friday at the Three Forks Ambulance Barn, Incident Commander David Hamilton praised the first firefighters who arrived on the scene Wednesday afternoon. The fire started on private land six miles southwest of Three Forks on the west side of U.S. Highway 287 and the north side of MT Hwy 2 in Jefferson County.
Hamilton said those involved with the initial attack deserve credit for nailing the fire down where it is.
He also thanked Three Forks Mayor Sean Gifford for his assistance. Hamilton added the fire was human-caused but did not release any further information.
“Our big thing is making sure we are mitigating risk to our firefighters and not exposing them to more than what we should be,” he said.
Governor Greg Gianforte was in attendance at the meeting and said for the safety of our communities and firefighters for Montana residents to please be careful.
“This was a man-made fire. Eighty percent of the fires we see are man-made, and we can be more careful when we are out there,” Gianforte said. “We will get the resources to get through this fire season. The outlook is not great, and we expect July to be a tough month.”
There is currently 126 total personnel on the fire, including 27 federal, 35 state, four local, and 60 private.
Officials report the fire at 10 percent contained, but that number should go up quite a bit Friday. The fire was originally reported to be 500 acres but the number was dropped 350 after additional mapping.
WILLOW CREEK FIRE
The fire was first reported to Dillon Dispatch Wednesday at 3:37 PM. Local, state and federal firefighters responded quickly including fire departments from Gallatin, Broadwater and Jefferson County. The Willow Creek Fire burned in grass, brush, and timber. Areas of the fire are very steep and inaccessible by fire engines. Four helicopters dropped water on the fire's forward progress to reduce its spread during the first day. Fire resources worked through the evening.
Thursday the fire held through the high winds and there was no growth to the fire. The DNRC County Assist Team was in-briefed by local and state authorities. Incident Commander, David Hamilton and Patrick Lonergan (trainee) assumed management of the fire Wednesday at 12:00 pm. Firefighters took all measures to ensure their safety as the erratic high winds kept them on heightened alert.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has reported the fire’s cause is human. Law enforcement contacted residents along Milligan Canyon Road Wednesday providing them with a pre-evacuation notice. Approximately 54 structures are in the fire area.
Yesterday the fire held through the high winds and there was no growth to the fire. The DNRC County Assist Team was in-briefed by local and state authorities. Incident Commander, David Hamilton and Patrick Lonergan (trainee) assumed management of the fire Wednesday at 12:00 pm. Firefighters took all measures to ensure their safety as the erratic high winds kept them on heightened alert.
Incident Objectives: 1) Aggressively and quickly suppress the fire to minimize impact to private property while providing for firefighter and public safety. 2) Maintain ongoing active engagement with affected landowners and community. 3) Ensure close coordination with agency administrators and cooperating agencies through frequent two-way dialog.