Elbow Pass Complex Update Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Incident: Elbow Pass Fire Complex Wildfire
Fire Information - Elbow Pass Complex
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 1:00 PM
Because fire activity has remained relatively stable and fire growth has remained slow, we will provide updates only every 5-7 days. If conditions change significantly, we will provide updates more frequently as needed. The next update is projected for on or about Wednesday, October 3 unless conditions change. Maps, updates, closures and other information will be updated on Inciweb as needed: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3066/
Elbow Pass Complex Fire Activity and Management
Fire spread has continued over the past several days east of the Continental Divide in the Green Fork drainage, burning onto the south aspect of Halfmoon Peak, as well as in the Ellis Creek drainage and in the South Fork Sun River below Patrol Mountain. A crew of 6 firefighters went into the South Fork Sun River on Tuesday, Sept. 25 to implement a pump and hose-lay system in order to limit progression of the fire on the east side of the river. The fire there is currently held up in an avalanche chute, and fire managers intend to use water to assist in holding it there.
The fire was fairly active in the Rapid Creek area on the Flathead NF recently, particularly on Monday, Sept. 24 when a column was visible from some areas. The fire in this area has moved down the Rapid Creek drainage and has crossed Sugarloaf Creek. It has been moving slowly west on the south side of Bar Creek.
Fire activity decreased somewhat in all areas on Tuesday, Sept. 25 due to cloud and smoke cover and consequently higher relative humidity.
Weather Forecast and Fire Behavior Outlook
The forecast for northwest and north central Montana over the next several days remains dry and generally warmer than average. A weak cold front may pass over the area Friday, but it is not expected to bring any moisture or significant wind. Cooler temperatures generally mean better nighttime humidity recovery, which tends to shorten the daily burning period. Some of the long-term weather models indicate a chance of precipitation mid-late week next week, but there is no clear indication of moisture arriving in the area any time soon. These conditions mean that fire activity is likely to remain similar to what has been observed for the past week, with active burning in some areas where slope, aspect, and fuels align. Very active fire behavior elsewhere in the region, including on the Wall Creek Fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, as well as actively spreading fires in the Condon area and on the Flathead Indian Reservation further west, is a reminder that we remain solidly within fire season, with no end currently in sight.
Although the National Forests managing the Bob Marshall, Great Bear, and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas have not yet implemented fire restrictions, fire danger is now rated as 'Very High' or 'Extreme' throughout much of the area. Despite longer nights and slightly cooler temperatures, conditions remain ripe for fires to start and spread quickly. Forest and Wilderness visitors should exercise extreme caution with fire when recreating on National Forest lands. Have water and a shovel available with any campfire, and be sure all fires are dead out before leaving the area. Do not toss cigarettes, coals, fire brands, etc. into vegetation, and be extremely careful regarding heat or sparks from chainsaws, wood or campstoves, etc.
Other Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness Fires
A number of fires are burning within the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas. The Prisoner Lake fire is burning in the White River drainage on the Flathead NF, across the Continental Divide from the upper West Fork Sun River drainage on the Lewis and Clark NF. That fire is estimated at about 4,120 acres, and has had almost no visible activity over the past several days. Light smoke has been visible occasionally in the White River area.
The Wall Creek Fire is burning on the Flathead NF in the upper Wall Creek and upper Spotted Bear River drainages west of the Chinese Wall. This fire, estimated at 2,533 acres, has been actively burning in recent days and exhibiting steady growth. Smoke has been visible at times along the Rocky Mountain Front.
Additional fires in the wilderness include the Falls Point fire on the Lolo NF, and the East Fork fire on the Helena NF, both in the Scapegoat Wilderness. The Wedge Creek fire is burning on the Lolo NF immediately west of the Wilderness boundary.
Information on these and other fires is available on InciWeb or by calling the local District offices.
Where Is the Smoke Coming From
On any given day the answer to this question may vary. Large fires in Washington and Idaho continue to push smoke in our direction, and depending on weather patterns this smoke has been relatively thick even into central Montana at times. Smaller fires in western Montana contribute to the smoke visible in the western half of the state, as well.
Closures : Trail and area closures associated with the Elbow Pass Complex remain unchanged since Sept. 8, 2012. New closures are in place for the Wall Creek fire on the Spotted Bear RD. The closure area for the East Fork fire on the Lincoln RD of the Helena NF was expanded on Tuesday, Sept. 14. Please see the InciWeb updates for these fires or contact the appropriate Ranger District offices for the latest information on trail and area closures.
For more information on these or other wildland fires, and related information visit http://www.inciweb.org/ or call:
Augusta Information Station (LCNF) 406-562-3247 Choteau District Office (LCNF) 406-466-5341
Seeley Lake Ranger District (LNF) 406-677-2233 Spotted Bear Ranger District (FNF) 406-758-5376
Lincoln Ranger District (HNF) 406-362-7000