The Seepay Fire on the Flathead Indian Reservation near Perma ballooned to 880 acres Tuesday, according to fire managers.
A Type 2 Incident Management Team took over the fire suppression efforts Tuesday, assuming control from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Type 3 organization.
Incident Commander Diane Hutton called the CSKT firefighters “the best in the business, so if they requested assistance it was really needed.”
The fire is burning south of Highway 200 at a high elevation in lodgepole pine and subalpine fir. Hutton said three crews comprised of 76 personnel and a helicopter are battling the fire, located about 20 miles west of Dixon.
Incident objectives are primarily to protect the safety of firefighters and the public while containing the fire within the Seepay-Magpie Roadless Area. No structures are threatened.
The fire grew approximately 200 acres on Tuesday and an infrared flight showed continued intense heat on the north, west and east flanks. Crews backed off the fire for two hours in the afternoon when erratic winds compromised visibility, creating a safety hazard.
Fire behavior analyst Risa Lange-Navarro said the fire is moving mostly by backing down slopes with very few crown runs. Firefighting efforts were concentrated on building contingency lines along the west side of the fire using heavy equipment to connect clear-cuts and open up the 5000 road.
Firefighters also worked to keep rolling material from crossing the 2000 road. The ability of the fire to push north or south is limited by old fire scars. An Incident Command Post was erected along the Flathead River near the Perma Bridge.
The weather forecast Wednesday calls for a chance of thundershowers throughout the day. Erratic winds with gusts up to 30 miles per hour may accompany the storms.
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