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Firefighters escape entrapment

POLSON – Hot, dry conditions and increased wind speeds over the weekend posed a challenge for firefighters. Wind gusts over the weekend were 10-15 mph and 20 mph on ridge lines.  

Sixteen firefighters on the Liberty fire were nearly trapped on Saturday evening from spot fires created by strong winds and a wind direction change, according to InciWeb. 

All of the firefighters escaped the incident, which took place in the Liberty Creek Road area near the South Fork of the Jocko River. A fire engine that was left behind was discovered unscathed on Sunday. 

The Liberty fire, which started July 15, was at 21,388 acres as of Monday morning with 17 percent containment. It grew nearly 5,000 acres on Sunday. 

Great Basin No. 3 team was scheduled to give management of the Liberty fire to the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team No. 3 on Tuesday. 

The Black fire that started July 20 three miles north of Black Lake was at 310 acres with zero percent containment as of Monday morning. 

According to a Sept. 4 air quality report from Missoula Public Health, air quality in Arlee was listed as unhealthy. It was further noted that when air quality is unhealthy, people with heart or lung disease, smokers, children and the elderly should limit heavy or prolonged exertion and limit time spent outdoors and that people with asthma should follow their asthma management plan.

Blue Bay fire

The Blue Bay fire was holding at 490 acres as of Sunday with 80 percent containment. 

One firefighter had to be transported to the hospital on Saturday due to a heat-related illness. 

“It’s so smoky, we’ve had no chance to get a helicopter out (do to thermal imaging of the fire),” CSKT fire prevention specialist C.T. Camel said on Monday morning. 

Other fires

The 620-acre Upper Midway Fire near Ravalli was contained but not controlled as of Monday morning.

The 62-acre Cottonwood Fire on private land in the Camas Prairie area four miles south of Hot Springs began Friday. 

The Rice Ridge fire burning east of Seeley Lake grew by 48,000 acres on Sunday.

Dry summer

A report from the National Weather Service in Missoula said that the months of July and August were the driest in western Montana since 1941. 

Going-to-the-Sun Road closed

Glacier National Park closed Going-to-the-Sun Road from the southern edge of Lake McDonald to Logan Pass at 6 p.m. Sunday as a precaution related to the Sprague Creek Fire in the park. Evacuations for those who live in that area were ordered at 10 a.m. Sunday. 


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