Winds blowing from the east toward Eureka Thursday evening caused spot fires to appear west of the road fire officials had hoped would remain the Gibralter Ridge fire’s western boundary.
“These small fires are generally located near the Foothills Road and Lick Lake Road junction,” states a Friday morning incident report. “Night crews were busy identifying these spot fires and working to suppress them. These wind-driven spot fires will continue to be a challenge for firefighters throughout (Friday).”
The fire, sparked by lightning Monday evening and located about 7 miles east of Eureka, was reported early Friday to be 1,652 acres in size. Almost 300 firefighters were said to be assigned to the blaze, which officials said had yet to burn any structures.
“Firefighters will continue to patrol for spot fires on private and state lands and will use Foothills Road as a control line to minimize the threat to the structures in the area,” the report continues. “Crews will continue to work north and south of the fire to thin the vegetation to modify fire behavior which will provide for firefighters the best opportunity to hold the fire.”
Officials scheduled a second public meeting “to provide updates and answer questions” about the fire for 6 p.m. Friday in the Lincoln County High School Auditorium. The first meeting, held Wednesday night, was attended by about 300 people, officials reported earlier in the week.
No additional evacuations have been called for since earlier in the week. The areas of Sherman Creek, Griffith Creek, Therriault Pass Road and Stevens Creek remain under evacuation, while areas including Glen Lake and Sinclair Creek (south/east of West Road) remain under pre-evacuation notice.
In addition, Grave Creek road is closed passed the junction of Grave Creek and Stoken Roads.
Command of the fire was taken over 6 p.m. Wednesday by Rick Connell’s Northern Rockies Western Montana Type 2 Incident Management Team. Agencies working on the fire include the Forest Service, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Eureka Volunteer Fire Department, Trego-Fortine-Stryker Volunteer Fire Department, Lincoln County Emergency Management Services and the American Red Cross.