Mild weather helps firefighters battling 5 fires near Highway 2 corridor

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A few days of mild to moderate weather allowed firefighters to make progress on five separate wildfires in the Highway 2 corridor by Thursday morning. A weekend forecast of increasing temperatures and decreasing relative humidity meant an increased risk fuels further drying out and igniting, yet winds were expected to “remain relatively light through the remainder of the week.”

“We have enough resources here,” said Anna Callahan, a spokesperson with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. “We’re looking pretty good for having the resources to keep the progress we’ve made.”

Callahan said the fires were all caused by lightning strikes during a thunderstorm July 8.

A Thursday morning incident report stated 307 people were fighting five separate fires in the Highway 2 corridor. The biggest remained the Lazier Creek 3 fire south of the highway and west of Thompson River Road, reported at 1,145 acres and 30 percent containment.

“Firefighters took advantage of the weather conditions keeping fire behavior moderate yesterday, and constructed line along the south and eastern flanks of the fire,” the report states. “The northwestern perimeter of the fire contains numerous spot fires, which are still holding heat, so crews concentrated on extinguishing the hot spots as they improved the line. Crews working on the north, west and southwest flanks of the fire will continue to hold and improve fire line.”

Aircraft including Type 1 and Type 2 helicopters were assisting the 176 firefighters with bucket drops “as necessary.”

Due to firefighting efforts, the Thompson River Road remained closed at the junction with Highway 2 south to the 28 mile marker. County Road 257 remained open, the report states.

Three miles northwest of Happy’s Inn on Highway 2, the Rogers Mountain Fire was at 78 acres and 49 percent containment Thursday morning.

“In order to utilize an existing road as a portion of the fire line, firefighters backed fire downslope using hand ignition along the southern perimeter of the fire on Wednesday,” the report states. “This effort allowed firefighters to tie the fire line into a dozer line that was built along the eastern fire edge.”

Thursday, the 77 firefighters were expected to “continue laying hose into the interior of the fire and extinguishing hot spots as part of the mop up efforts. Crews on the south end of the fire will work to secure the fire line and mop up along yesterday’s burn out.”

The other three fires were notably smaller. The 15 acre Grubb Fire north of Pleasant Valley was 100 percent contained Thursday morning, with the 33 personnel assigned “finishing up mop up efforts on the interior of the fire and looking for any remaining pockets of heat.” Northwest of Meadow Peak Lookout, an 11.5-acre fire was 79 percent contained with 14 firefighters assigned, while nearby the 2645 Fire was at 3.25 acres and 50 percent containment with 7 firefighters assigned.

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