Firefighters make progress on area wildfires as weather cooperates

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  • This remote automated weather station and lookout tower on Baldy Mountain are two items located where the Davis fire potentially could spread. (Courtesy U.S. Forest Service/Kootenai National Forest)

  • 1

    This snow telemetry, or SNOTEL, site is located where the Davis fire potentially could spread. (Courtesy U.S. Forest Service/Kootenai National Forest)

  • 2

    This photograph of the Gold Hill fire was provided earlier in the week. (Courtesy U.S. Forest Service/Kootenai National Forest)

  • This remote automated weather station and lookout tower on Baldy Mountain are two items located where the Davis fire potentially could spread. (Courtesy U.S. Forest Service/Kootenai National Forest)

  • 1

    This snow telemetry, or SNOTEL, site is located where the Davis fire potentially could spread. (Courtesy U.S. Forest Service/Kootenai National Forest)

  • 2

    This photograph of the Gold Hill fire was provided earlier in the week. (Courtesy U.S. Forest Service/Kootenai National Forest)

Gold Hill

An infrared flight on Wednesday put the Gold Hill fire north of Libby at 3,512 acres, according to a Thursday incident report. Containment remained at one percent, following a day of “minimal” fire behavior “within the fire perimeter with some creeping and movement downslope, mostly along the southern edge.”

Traffic delays were said to be expected on Pipe Creek Road near mile marker 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the next five to six days.

“The delays are necessary during fuels reduction operations as firefighters remove trees on the east side of the highway to create a fuel break,” the report states. “Creating a fuel break will help prevent fire from carrying across the road, thus minimizing the threat to private homes in the area.”

“Traffic will be allowed to go through at the top of each hour and delays will range from 30-60 minutes,” the report continues.

Firefighters will continue fuel reduction operations around the west, north and eastern fire perimeters. Crews will continue patrolling and mopping up hot spots along the southern fire perimeter.

On Thursday, pre-evacuation orders still stood for properties near mile markers 11 and 13.

Weather was forecast to change Thursday.

“Fire activity may increase some as a dry cold front is anticipated to move into the area,” the report states.

Sterling Complex

Containment had increased on the Pinkham Tower and Huckleberry fires, to 75 percent and 85 percent, respectively, on Thursday, following last Sunday’s rain.

Still, both fires, covering 1,405 acres, were “creeping and smoldering, especially in the uncontained deeper, shaded duff of the forest,” according to a Thursday incident report.

Firefighters were completing remaining containment lines, seeking out heat 40 to 80 feet inside contained areas, and conducting suppression repair work in cold, secure areas, the report states.

Things are looking good on the Pinkham fire’s northeast edge, reported to be “in monitor and patrol status, with repair work well underway.”

Meanwhile, “mop up is progressing along the western and southern flanks, with water tenders and engines supporting firefighters working on the ground,” the report states.

On the Huckleberry fire, skidders were continuing “to transport logs intended for a future salvage sale to logging decks cut during suppression operations.”

“Fires will continue to smolder and creep in isolated pockets of unburned vegetation and duff,” the report continues. “Interior pockets may show heat in areas previously dampened by precipitation, yet as vegetation dries out and temperatures return to seasonal norms, smoke and haze may become visible.”

Davis

Following minimal fire activity and the removal of timber and slash on Wednesday, the Davis fire was reported at 6,597 acres and 20 percent containment Thursday, according to an incident report.

Thursday’s plans called for firefighters and water-dropping helicopters to “focus on preventing fire spread in the Jungle Creek drainage … where areas of scattered heat remain,” the report states.

In addition, the removal of timber and slash was to continue, along with monitoring the remainder of the fire perimeter and mopping up where needed.

“A weak dry cold front continues to move through the area, producing normal late summer conditions,” the report states. “On Monday flows aloft will change, bringing a slight chance of showers.”

Resources assigned to the Davis fire include 219 personnel and numerous logging and other pieces of heavy equipment.

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