Chippy Creek Fire Wrapped Up, Cold Front Coming

By Beacon Staff

Montana’s largest fire of the season, the Chippy Creek Fire 42 mile southwest of Kalispell, is now fully contained at 99,090 acres – or about 155 square miles. Evacuation orders have been lifted and rehabilitation operations are underway.

And a couple of other summer headliners are out or mostly out. The Black Cat Fire northwest of Missoula has been contained at less than 12,000 acres, and the 36,000-acre Jocko Lakes Fire west of Seeley Lake is 93 percent contained.

Red-flag conditions in Central Montana are expected to precede a cold front sweeping into Montana today, according to the National Weather Service, and after the winds subside the region will be left with significantly cooler air — highs in the 70s for the rest of the week — with rain here and there.

Several new fires popped up over the hot and dry Labor Day weekend. The 300-acre Forest Grove Fire, near the Quartz Flat Campground off of Interstate 90, about 25 miles southeast of St. Regis, started Sunday afternoon. No structures are threatened. It’s now 20 percent contained with fire activity expected to moderate with cloud cover and cooler temperatures.

Meanwhile, a wind-driven grass fire near Bozeman was contained before it could reach the city dump and large ridge-top homes nearby. It was 30 acres in size. Fourteen residences were issued pre-evacuation notices but no residents were forced to leave.

The 61,000-acre Sawmill Complex of fires 22 miles southeast of Missoula continues its spread, with most of the perimeter still uncontrolled, and evacuations are still in effect for Upper Willow Creek Road (Granite County). Rock Creek residents remain on 24-hour pre-evacuation notice.

Here’s the latest on other notable fires still burning in Montana:

  • The Ahorn Fire, burning in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Lewis and Clark National Forest 30 miles west of Augusta, is now 52,154 acres and 20 percent contained. Pre-evacuations remain in place for the Gibson Reservoir. Stoner and Benchmark areas are under full evacuation orders. The Benchmark airstrip remains closed due to the continued threat.
  • The Fool Creek Fire, in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, 30 miles Northwest of Choteau, is 57,970 acres and 30 percent contained. Containment is not expected until a season-ending event.
  • The Rat Creek Fire, in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, 25 miles west of Wisdom, is mapped at 25,000 acres at 25 percent contained.
  • The Rombo Mountain Fire, west of Connor on the Bitterroot National Forest, was mapped Tuesday at 25,796 acres at 15 percent contained. All existing pre-evacuation alerts remain in effect.
  • 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 80 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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