Very High Fire Danger Persists on Kootenai Forest

With 19 new fire starts in the span of a week, only the 15-acre Savage Mountain blaze continues to burn in rugged terrain on the Three Rivers Ranger District near Troy

By Tristan Scott
Courtesy Kootenai National Forest.

Having responded to 19 new fire starts on the Kootenai National Forest in the past week, wildland fire officials say only the 15-acre Savage Mountain blaze near Troy has continued to require their attention.

Located on the Three Rivers Ranger District, the Savage Mountain fire is burning in steep, rugged terrain in the Spar Lake area, where a Type 2 crew is working to mop up hot spots and bring the blaze to full containment, according to LaRona Rebo, public affairs officer for the Kootenai National Forest.

First detected on July 2, the lightning-caused Savage Mountain fire is currently estimated at 60% containment and is burning outside the boundary of the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness Area, where 35 personnel have set up a spike camp due to the difficulty of accessing the terrain.

Among the personnel working the fire are the Lolo National Forest Interagency Hotshots, a module from the Flathead National Forest and firefighters from the Kootenai National Forest.

According to Rebo, the crews have built a containment line around most if not all of the fire’s perimeter and are in the process of extinguishing and removing burning material from around the fireline.

“The fire isn’t burning very clean and it’s in rugged, super steep and inaccessible country,” Rebo said.

The Kootenai National Forest on July 7 moved its fire danger level to “very high” due to dry conditions, low humidity and lightning.

Most of the other fire starts in July were due to human-caused behaviors, such as fireworks and unextinguished campfires, Rebo said, and the fires, all less than an acre, were snuffed out quickly.

“Over the past week, the forest has had 18 new fire starts, all of which crews were able to successfully find, fight and manage,” according to the Kootenai National Forest announcement on July 7. “Please use caution when recreating on national forest land and ensure campfires are completely extinguished, keep chains tight, and smoke and park in barren spots to avoid dry, grassy areas.”

For more information, visit the Kootenai National Forest website or the agency’s Facebook page. Additional information and updates can be tracked on WildCAD here.

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