High winds caused the Seepay Fire to spread with a steady wall of flames Wednesday, gaining 150 acres in one day and pushing fire crews out of the way, according to fire managers.
Crews were able to safely disengage from the fire prior to the wind event thanks to accurate weather forecasting and excellent communications. Gusts up to 47 miles per hour hit the Incident Command Post near the Perma Bridge and a logistics yurt and numerous personal tents suffered damage.
The fire, located roughly 20 miles west of Dixon in the Seepay-Magpie Roadless Area, reached 1,031 acres by Thursday morning, according to an update issued by the Type 3 Incident Management Team in place on the Flathead Indian Reservation.
More than 100 personnel are attacking the blaze. One injury was reported after a firefighter slipped on a rock Tuesday evening and hyperextended their knee. The individual is expected to make a full recovery, according to fire managers.
Thursday’s weather forecast calls for continued thundershowers throughout the day with a 60 percent chance of wetting rain. Erratic winds with gusts up to 30 miles per hour may accompany these storms.
According to fire managers, crews will try to exploit the opportunities presented by the decrease in fire behavior to seek out potential direct fire-line construction while remaining mindful of the increased hazards created by slippery roads and weakened snags. An additional Type 3 helicopter was added to the firefighting arsenal on Wednesday.
The following roads are closed due to fire activity: Seepay Creek Road from Highway 200 up is closed. Revais, Magpie, and Vanderberg creek roads are closed from the top over into Seepay. The public can still drive up to top of Revais, Magpie, and Vanderberg. Roads at the top are closed and barricaded.
Another large fire, the Thompson River Complex, has expanded to 1,569 acres six miles northeast of Thompson Falls. Crews have contained 15 percent of the complex’s perimeter, according to the latest update from the Type 2 Incident Management Team in charge.
The complex, encompassing multiple fires, continues to burn in steep, rocky terrain.
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