Fire team moves into new phase of fighting Lolo Peak

Fire team moves into new phase of fighting Lolo Peak

Source: NBC Montana
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Kevin Maki

LOLO, Mont. – The Lolo Peak Fire is now more than 7,000 acres. It grew about 100 acres since Sunday.

Since the fire started about three weeks ago crews have been drawing containment lines along its borders.

With weeks left in the fire season the Lolo Peak Fire is expected to keep burning. Its inaccessible to firefighters on the ground.

The Pacific Northwest Type 1 team is now moving into a second phase of fighting this fire.

Incident commander Noel Livingston told firefighters the next phase is to allow the fire to grow naturally in some areas.

Crews will continue to check it using helicopters and retardant in spots that could be major threats.

To reduce fuels manmade fires will be set when conditions are favorable.

Fire information officer Bill Queen said scientists will continue to gauge winds, weather and topography to allow the fire to burn down the hill slowly.

“To slowly bring the fire down so that we don’t get large runs towards the values at risk,” Queen said.

Crews have almost finished building primary containment along Highways 12 and 93. They’re working to finish line along the western perimeter of the fire on the Idaho border. In total it’s about 30 miles of containment.

“Now we’re starting to work to manage that growth on terms that we can safely work with,” said Queen.

Snaking up a hillside in Mill Creek, firefighters had set up about a mile of hose along private property.

“We’ve got sprinklers every 200 feet to do a zone protection on the structures,” said Florence firefighter Leah Rediske.

Crews pumped water for those sprinklers from a nearby pond. They also have pumpkins, or portable water tanks, that can be used for backup for primary purposes.

Many homeowners in the area have also set up their own sprinkler systems.

NBC Montana met Ray Brunner at the fire information center in Lolo. Brunner came to get an update on the fire.

He lives off Highway 12. He is not in the evacuation warning area, but he is not taking any chances. He’s prepared his property against fire by cutting brush. He’s loaded his tools up for safekeeping, and he and his family are ready to leave if necessary.

“It’s so dry,” said Brunner. “If that fire comes and gets to my neighbor on the south side it could spot.”

The fire team’s efforts are to prevent sparks and high intensity burns by robbing the fire of fuel before it comes.