Crews Closing in on Containing Montana’s Black Cat, Jocko Fires

By Beacon Staff

It’s been a productive few days on the Black Cat fire burning near Evaro northwest of Missoula.

Sunday, crews has the fire 60 percent contained, up from the 35 percent the day before. By Monday night, the fire had solid containment line around 70 percent of it — including on the northeast side, where homes had been threatened just a few days before.

The fire is holding at 11,754 acres and crews are mostly “mopping up and looking for hot spots,” said fire information officer Marian Swinney. The south flank of the fire had been contained early on, where the fire took a big run Aug. 16 in grass and brush toward homes in the area. So, for the last few days, crews had been focusing on the fire’s north flank and they “got a real hold on it” Monday, Swinney said. The team managing the fire is getting ready to leave Thursday and so it is in de-mobilization mode and down to 562 people on the fire. All evacuations and notices were lifted at 6 a.m. Monday.

Northeast of Missoula, crews were also making headway on the 34,932-acre Jocko Lakes fire west of Seeley Lake. There, firefighters have secure line around 46 percent of the fire’s perimeter. There is still active burning within the interior of the fire and crews are still working on the fire’s southeast edge, planning more burnouts to remove fuel from the path of the fire.

On the Sawmill Complex, southeast of Missoula, crews worked on containing spot fires and made sure lines held Monday. The 56,772-acre complex is made up of four fires: the Sawmill Fire: 10,753 acres, all on the Lolo National Forest; Fisher Point Fire: 11,863 acres, all on the Lolo National Forest; Wyman 2 Fire: 33,866 acres, Signal Rock 07, 293 (no change in size).

The Fisher Point fire forced a new evacuation over the weekend — upper Willow Creek road, north of Mile Marker 8 — and that mandatory evacuation was still in place Monday. Rock Creek residents remain on a 24 hour pre-evacuation notice. Rock Creek Road is closed to non residents from I-90 to the intersection with County Road 348. The Willow Creek Road is closed to all non-resident travel from Miners Gulch north.

Elsewhere in Montana…

Western Montana Fires

  • The Rombo Mountain fire, west of Connor on the Bitterroot National Forest, was mapped Monday at 21,712 acres and still no containment estimate. There are 271 people working on the fire.

Northwestern Montana Fires:

  • The Chippy Creek Fire, 42 miles southwest of Kalispell and 24 miles north of Thompson Falls is now mapped at 99,090 acres and crews have it 75 percent, up from 40 percent over the weekend.
  • The Skyland Fire, in the Flathead National Forest 45 miles east of Whitefish, has held for several days at 45,760 acres and it is now 70 percent contained.
  • The Brush Creek Fire, burning about 25 miles west of Whitefish, is 100 percent contained at 29,921 acres.

Southwestern Montana:

  • The Rat Creek Fire, in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, 25 miles west of Wisdom, is 19,300 acres and 15 percent contained. There are no more mandatory evacuations on the fire.
  • The Pattengail Creek Fire, in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest 10 miles northeast of Wisdom, is now mapped at 12,155 acres. No structures are threatened and the fire is 15 percent contained.

Central Montana:

  • The Ahorn Fire, burning in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Lewis and Clark National Forest 30 miles west of Augusta, is now 47,000 acres and 10 percent contained. Evacuations have been downgraded to pre-evacuation notices to the fire’s east (Stoner Place), around Gibson reservoir (the fire’s north) and to the fire’s south, in the Benchmark area, where there are about 65 forest service lease cabins.
  • The Fool Creek Fire, in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, 30 miles Northwest of Choteau, is 56,500 acres and 15 percent contained. Containment is not expected until a season-ending event.
  • The Conger Creek Fire, Lolo National Forest, 20 miles north of Ovando along Highway 200, is at 20,100 acres and being managed as a Wildand Fire Use fire and monitored, not actively suppressed. (Click here to learn more about Wildand Fire Use.)

Southcentral Montana:

  • The The Hicks Park Fire, in the Main Boulder Drainage south of Big Timber, and the Wicked Creek Fire, burning near the Mill Creek drainage of the Paradise Valley south of Livingston, are combined in the WH Complex. In total, the complex has burned 28,600 acres and is 65 percent contained. All evacuations on both fires have been lifted.

For the latest fire information, visit NewWest.Net/Fire

Also, check in often to InciWeb, where the large fires are being updated from fire camp regularly. The large fires with InciWeb pages are linked in the roundup below. Click on the name of the fire above for that fire’s page. (InciWeb has been slammed lately and it’s often inaccessible.)

For a look at fire weather forecasts, click here and for a national breakdown of wildland fires, click here.

Stage II fire restrictions, meaning no campfires, smoking, daytime industrial operations and motor vehicle use off designated roads and trails, are in effect across western and west-central Montana. Click here for more details.

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