Black Cat Fire Almost All Wrapped Up

By Beacon Staff

Crews have the Black Cat fire burning near Evaro northwest of Missoula pretty well snuffed out. Wednesday morning the 11,754-acre blaze was 90 percent contained with full containment expected Thursday. Today crews will continue putting out smoldering logs, stumps and debris in the Frog Creek area and upper Mill Creek, the fire camp reports.

Northeast of Missoula, the 35,070-acre Jocko Lakes fire west of Seeley Lake is now 55 percent contained. Line construction continues along the southern and western perimeters of the fire, with hand crews burning out areas to clean up the remaining vegetation between the main body of the fire and the line. Elsewhere, crews continue to mop up and patrol. Heavy fuels and steep terrain south of Jocko Lakes on the west side of the fire are expected to challenge suppression efforts.

On the 57,000-acre Sawmill Complex, southeast of Missoula, growth is still expected due to hot and dry weather and the amount of uncontrolled line.

Crews are monitoring fire activity, moping-up and securing perimeters where possible, scouting for contingency lines and providing structure protection as needed.

The complex is composed of four fires, the 10,790-acres Sawmill Fire, 11,990-acre Fisher Point Fire, and 33,956-acre Wyman 2 Fire, and the 293-acre Signal Rock Fire.

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 Wednesday. 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 Wednesday at 22,136 acres at 15 percent contained. There are 279 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 Wednesday crews have it 80 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 75 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 12,967 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 48,703 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 20 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 70 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.