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Fire at a glance (numbers)

  • Incident Name:
  • State:
  • Lead Agency:
  • Size (acres):
  • Percent Contained:
  • Estimate of Containment:
  • Personnel:
  • Structures Destroyed:

Liberty, Flathead Agency, BIA. IMT 1 (McGowan). Seventeen miles southeast of Arlee, MT. Timber. Minimal fire behavior. Road, trail and area closures in effect.

August 13, 2017 at 10:31 AM

Yesterday the fire remained active in Gold Creek where crews checked its spread with helicopter water drops. Crews were able to make additional improvements to confinement lines and did not need to initiate strategic firing operations due to minimal fire growth. Structure protection measures have been put in place at Gold Creek Cabin.

Today the fire is expected to move east along the north side of Gold Creek toward completed confinement lines. Firefighters are prepared to hold the confinement lines should the fire approach them over the next two days. If the fire approaches confinement lines crews may use strategic firing operations to remove unburned fuel between the confinement line and the main fire. Removal of unburned fuels ahead of the main fire adds depth to the confinement lines and reduces the risk of spotting over the lines. Smoke columns from increased fire activity within confinement lines may be visible from surrounding areas.

A Red Flag Warning has been issued for the fire area until 9 PM Tonight. Increased fire activity is expected due to increased winds and low humidity. Winds are expected to increase from the west between 15 to 25 mph by Sunday afternoon. Minimum humidity is expected to range from 18 to 23 percent Sunday. Thunderstorms may impact the area.

No evacuation orders are in effect at this time. Out of caution the Evacuation Warning for the community of Placid Lake remains in effect. While there is minimal risk that the fire would reach Placid Lake, emergency managers would like residents to remain prepared should conditions change. The Liberty Fire has not moved east of its’ current position at Boles Meadow since July 30th. The closest uncontrolled fire perimeter is more than 9 miles away from Placid Lake with 2 control lines now complete between the community and the fire. The primary control line is 1.9 miles east of the fire’s edge, with a secondary control lines now in place at 2.7 miles. The existing road system east of established controls provides an additional measure of protection to the community.

Firefighters are working to limit the fire’s spread and protect values at risk where they can do so safely and effectively. These values include watersheds, sensitive cultural and natural resources, private inholdings and local communities, powerlines, air quality, and important recreation areas and wilderness areas.

August 9, 2017 at 7:41 AM

Tonight the fire will continue to back and flank into the early evening with isolated torching. Humidity recoveries are not predicted to be very high tonight so this activity will continue later into the evening.

Tomorrow: Changes in the weather forecast will lead to less active fire behavior. Smoldering and creeping fire with isolated torching is expected to continue. Outflow winds could increase fire activity but this activity could be moderated if the 10% chance of wetting rain materializes over the fire. The fire will be most active in the South Fork of the Jocko River/Gold Creek divide area.

Crews will continue to improve indirect and direct lines where appropriate. They will also continue to mitigate hazard trees near road systems. Monitor inaccessible portions of the fire. Use aircraft to check fire growth in locations as needed.

August 6, 2017 at 10:11 AM

McGowan’s team has been extended 7 days, located on the Liberty Fire in Montana

Fireline Construction on the Liberty Fire Nearly Complete.

Change in Percent to be contained reflects a change in Fire Suppression Strategy to percent of meeting planned objectives.

Fire Suppression Strategy has been changed from 100% Full Suppression to 70% Confine, 20% Monitor, and 10% Full Suppression. The operational strategy has been modified due to factors including elevated risk for personnel constructing direct line on areas of the fire, low probability of success in direct line containment, and the fire stalling at natural barriers. Approximately 71%(16.9 miles) of indirect confinement line has been constructed and is being improved. Direct Containment line (3.5 miles) is complete and being monitored and improved as appropriate.

Yesterday firefighter efforts closed in on completion of fire line construction. Due to the inaccessibility of portions of the fire, the suppression strategy changed yesterday from 100% full suppression to: 70% confinement (confined with lines, natural barriers and past burn scars); 20% monitor; and 10 percent full suppression. The operational strategy was modified due to elevated risk for personnel constructing direct line and low probability of success in direct line containment. The fact that the fire has stalled against natural barriers include past burn scares and wetland was another factor that lead to a change in strategy. To confine the fire firefighters have completed approximately 16.9 miles of indirect line, or 80% of the total fire line needed.

Today firefighters will improve and expand fire lines. Where fire line has been completed in the Boles Meadow and Gold Creek area crews will focus on line improvement. Equipment no longer required on the east flank will be move to the north and west flanks to expedite completion of lines in these areas. On the fire’s south and west flanks near the Rattlesnake Wilderness, direct access to the fire is restricted by dense stands of lodge-pole pines that are extremely dangerous to work in. Fire activity in these areas will be monitored.

A northwest wind pattern is expected to transport smoke from fires in Canada over the burn area reducing fire behavior. Fire growth is expected to be minimal today due to a combination of smoke cover and higher relative humidity. Winds are expected to light out of the northwest. There is a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms today.

Firefighters are challenged by extreme burning conditions, heavy forest fuels and limited access in steep rough terrain. Where the fire is inaccessible due to steep terrain and dense hazardous lodge-pole stands, firefighters are taking advantage of existing burn scars and old road systems to develop a network of containment lines that will restrict the fires growth.

No evacuation orders are in effect at this time. The Evacuation Warning for the community of Placid Lake remains in effect until east flank containment lines are secure.

August 5, 2017 at 11:30 AM

Yesterday firefighters lengthened and strengthened containment lines. While the percent of contained line did not increase, containment lines were extended and improved on the north, east, and south flanks. Minimal fire growth occurred on the fires west flank. A key containment line from Gold Creek to Boles Creek was completed. The Finley Creek Road, a key access point to the center of the fire, was reopened for firefighters allowing better access for crews and equipment. Helicopters have assisted in cooling off edges of the fire and allowing firefighters to complete work on the ground.

Today firefighters will take advantage of cooler weather to improve and expand lines. The priority remains to hold the fire at the 2003 Boles Meadow burn scar and to continue improving primary containment lines while building new contingency lines. With new access open along the Finley Creek Road firefighters will be scout for opportunities construct more direct line near the fire’s edge. On the fire’s south and west flanks near the Rattlesnake Wilderness, direct access to the fire is restricted by dense stands of lodgepole pines that are extremely dangerous to work in.

A northwest wind pattern is expected to transport smoke from fires in Canada over the burn area reducing fire behavior. Fire growth is expected to be minimal today due to a combination of smoke cover and higher relative humidity. Winds are expected to be light out of the northwest. There is a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms today.

Firefighters are challenged by extreme burning conditions, heavy forest fuels and limited access in steep rough terrain. Where the fire is inaccessible due to steep terrain and dense hazardous lodgepole stands, firefighters are taking advantage of existing burn scars and old road systems to develop a network of containment lines that will restrict the fire’s growth.

A Liberty Fire community meeting will be held at the Potomac Community Center, 29750 Potomac Road, Bonner, MT at 6 PM this evening. Official with the incident management will provide an update on the fire.

No evacuation orders are in effect at this time. The Evacuation Warning for the community of Placid Lake remains in effect until east flank containment lines are secure.

August 4, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Yesterday firefighters built on containment line successes over the past several days. An additional 10 percent of containment was obtained on the fires northwest flank. Minimal fire growth occurred on the fire’s north and south flank. Crews improved both primary and contingency lines on the fires southeast flank between Boles Creek burn scar and Gold Creek. A containment line is being improved north from Boles Creek along Game Ridge to check the fires northeast flank.

Liberty Fire Photo by Kari Greer

Today, fire crews will continue to build and improve containment lines on the fires east perimeter along the Boles Meadow burn scar using the existing road system. The priority is to hold the fire at the 2003 Boles Meadow burn scar and continue to improve primary containment lines and build new contingency lines. Crews may use strategic firing operations to remove unburned fuels between the containment lines and the main fire as conditions allow. Helicopters will be used to check the fires growth and support ground crews. A retardant plant has been established west of Placid Lake to reduce travel times for helicopters.

Smoke is expected to clear earlier today and conditions are expected to be drier and hotter. Lower relative humidity and dry fuels are expected to create ideal conditions for fire growth. Relative humidity will drop to critically low levels around 13-17%. Northwest afternoon winds are expected to increase to 15-20 mph. Heavy dead and downed fuels can result in rapid fire growth where winds align with canyons.

Firefighters are challenged by extreme burning conditions, heavy forest fuels and limited access in steep rough terrain. While crews are making progress on all flanks of the fire, steep terrain and abundant snags create hazardous working conditions and limit access to the fire.

No evacuation orders are in effect at this time. The Missoula County Sheriff Department’s Evacuation Warning for the community of Placid Lake remains in effect. This warning will be removed once eastern primary and contingency lines currently under construction are secured.

Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Every time a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of this area. More info visit Know Before You Fly, http://knowbeforeyoufly.org

Firefighters are working to limit the fire’s spread and protect values at risk where they can do so safely and effectively. These values include watersheds, sensitive cultural and natural resources, private inholdings and local communities, powerlines, air quality, and important recreation areas and wilderness areas.

August 3, 2017 at 9:18 AM

Yesterday the Liberty Fire had minimal growth and crews made significant progress in establishing containment lines. Minimal fire growth occurred on the fire’s east flank. To check the fire’s southeast flank crews established containment lines along the western edge of the 2003 Boles Meadow burn scar between Boles Creek and Gold Creek. A containment line is being constructed north from Boles Creek along Game Ridge to check the fires northeast flank. There was little growth on the fire’s north flank where firefighters achieved containment along the existing road system.

Photo taken by IMET Don Bursom

Today, fire crews will continue to build containment line on the fires east perimeter along the Boles Meadow burn scar using the existing road system. The priority is to hold the fire at the 2003 Boles Meadow burn scar and continue to improve primary containment lines and build new contingency lines. Crews may use strategic firing operations to remove unburned fuels between the containment lines and the main fire as conditions allow. New containment lines are being constructed using existing roads on the fires north flank to keep the fire south of Liberty Creek. Containment lines on the north and west flank will be improved and additional contingency lines well be constructed as resources become available.

Temperatures will be in the low 80’s with light northwest winds expected over the next two days. Low relative humidity and dry fuels will continue to challenge firefighters. Northwest winds are expected to push the fire to the south and southeast today in Gold Creek drainage. The fire may become active in drainages where upslope winds align with heavy fuels.

Firefighters are challenged by extreme burning conditions, heavy forest fuels and limited access in steep rough terrain. Fire activity can be expected to increase by early afternoon and smoke will impact communities to the east of the fire area.

No evacuation orders are in effect at this time. The Missoula County Sheriff Department’s Evacuation Warning for the community of Placid Lake remains in effect. This warning will be removed once eastern primary and contingency lines currently under construction are secured.

August 2, 2017 at 10:14 PM

Today the Liberty Fire grew on the south flank near Hidden Lake and Gold Creek.

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The fire continues to hold on the western edge of the 2003 Boles Meadow burn scar where crews have established primary containment lines using existing roads systems. Primary containment lines are being constructed by dozers, south from Boles Creek toward Gold Creek, to cut off potential southeast movement of the fire. Contingency lines are being constructed east of Boles Meadows as a precaution and an additional protection for the community of Placid Lake. At this time there is minimal risk of the fire moving east through the Boles Meadow burn scar. There was little growth on the fire’s north flank where firefighters are working to establish containment lines to keep the fire south of Liberty Creek.

Rice Ridge Fire and Liberty Fire Community Meeting scheduled August 3, 2017 at 6:00 at the Seeley Lake Elementary School.

The community meeting will be a joint meeting with information on both the Liberty and Rice Ridge Fire’s. The address of the elementary school is 200 School Ln, Seeley

August 1, 2017 at 6:22 PM

There was a transfer of command on 07-31 from the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribe to California Interagency Incident Management team 1 (CIIMT1) and at 8:00pm last night the team accepted command of the fire.

Prior to the transfer of command Missoula County issued an evacuation warning for the Finley Creek and Placid Lake areas. There are road closures in place for the south fork of Jocko River Road and the middle fork of the Jocko River Road.

Today’s observed fire behavior included active, flanking, backing and torching.
The fire is actively flanking and backing in all directions with increased fire activity where wind and/or topography align. Isolated torching was observed in areas of increased fuel loading. Firefighters have put into place a mobile repeater to improve hand-held radio coverage. A remote area weather station (RAWS) was also constructed to assist with weather forecasting. Tonights east winds are expected to push the fire to the east southeast. Along with the forecasted fire behaviors smoke is expected to settle into the valleys in the direction of the prevailing winds.

Projected Incident Activity

12 hours: Minimal relative humidity recovery and probability of overnight winds fire movement is anticipated to be one half mile to the west. Where fuels and topography align, fire growth may be greater than one half mile.

24 hours: Reduced winds and slightly higher daytime humidity is forecasted, these conditions are anticipated to allow for 1/2 to one mile of fire growth towards the west.

August 1, 2017 at 3:53 PM

Liberty fire air operations are currently using the closest water sources to suppress the liberty fire those lakes include: Hidden Lake, Yellow Lake, and an Unnamed Lake. At this time, these water sources are the most effective, providing helicopters with the shortest turn-around-time between drops. Precautions are in place to prevent the transport of aquatic invasive species.

August 1, 2017 at 8:23 AM

Suppression Objectives:

• Keep the fire south of the Middle Fork of the Jocko River to minimize impacts to the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness

• Keep the fire west of the Belmont Creek and the eastern edges of the Boles Meadow/Jocko Lake Fire footprint to reduce threats to private lands and infrastructure near Placid and Seely Lakes

• Keep fire north of the West Fork of Gold Creek and the upper reaches of Rattlesnake Creek to limit impacts to the Rattlesnake NRA and Rattlesnake Wilderness Area

• Keep the fire east of the road system at the bottom of Finley and F-4100 Road to limit threats to the community of Arie, Hwy 93 and associated infrastructure.

Fire behavior today will be similar to yesterday with active fire due to instability, very low RH, and high temperatures. For much of the day fire behavior should still be primarily surface spread enhanced by spotting from torching and short crown runs, Expect short to mid-range spotting from those events. When the fire is smoked in, it will remain on the ground. When the air clears and the inversion breaks, sustained terrain driven crown runs are possible on steep slopes aligned with upslope winds with flame lengths exceeding 100 feet and long range spotting.

Highest potential for spread wilt be on the southeast and southwest areas of the fire when the inversion lifts. The fire will continue to back flank in the areas where this activity has been occurring until it reaches a slope that is aligned with the winds or a slope reversal occurs. When this occurs expect fire behavior to pick up drastically.

Today, fire crews will continue to build containment line on the fires east perimeter along the Boles Meadow burn scar using the existing road system. The priority is to keep the fire west of the Boles Meadow scar and away from the communities of Placid Lake. Resources will be focused on the eastern flank while additional containment lines are scouted on the south flank. Containment lines on the north and west flank will be improved and additional contingency lines well be constructed as resources become available.

Hotter, drier weather and east winds are expected in the next day. Low relative humidity and dry fuels will continue to challenge firefighters. While winds are expected to remain light today, the passage of dry cold front is expected to occur in the next 24 hours shifting winds out of the east. East winds should help firefighters keep the fire from advancing towards Placid Lake.

Firefighters will be challenged by extreme burning conditions, heavy forest fuels and limited access in steep rough terrain. Fire activity can be expected to increase by early afternoon and smoke impacts can be expected in communities east of the fire area.

No evacuation orders are in effect at this time. The Missoula County Sheriff Department’s Evacuation Warning for the community of Placid Lake remains in effect.

Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Every time a drone is spotted near the fire all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of this area. More info visit Know Before You Fly, http://knowbeforeyoufly.org

Firefighters are working to limit the fire’s spread and protect values at risk where they can do so safely and effectively. These values include watersheds, sensitive cultural and natural resources, private inholdings and local communities, powerlines, air quality, and important recreation areas and wilderness areas.

July 31, 2017 at 8:18 PM

The Liberty fire was a lightning fire that started on July 15, 2017 on the Flathead Reservation. The fire is located seventeen miles southeast of Arlee, Montana. Yesterday’s fire behavior included extreme fire behavior with long-range spotting, uphill runs and group tree torching. Road, trail, and area closures are in effect.

California Interagency Incident Management Team 1 (CIIMT1) McGowan will be transitioning into management at 8:00pm today.