GREAT FALLS — The Ellis Fire and the Balsinger Fire are being managed jointly as the Divide Complex Fires, and have burned more than 2,500 acres as of Tuesday, July 13.
There have been no reported injuries, and no reports of any damaged structures/buildings.
On the Ellis Fire, there are five Type 6 Engines, three Type 2 Initial Attack modules, two dozers, and three water tenders assigned to the fire, for a total of 89 personnel. Type 3 Incident Commander Marc Hamlen is working in conjunction with Type 3 Incident Commander Drew Brown on the Balsinger Fire. A pre evacuation order was placed for the Smith River corridor from Camp Baker in the south to Blacktail Creek to the north on June 11th. On Monday, good progress was made on securing the east and north flanks of the fire in order to keep the fire from spreading closer to structures. The addition of more engines, one skidgen, and 2 dozers was critical in the effort. The clearer air also allowed for air resources to assist in reinforcing the fire line. Retardant drops combined with handcrews efforts were successful in making progress to box in the fire. As of the morning of July 13, the fire is 10% percent contained. Special thanks to Meagher County Rural Fire Department and the Rockin C Ranch for their help on the Ellis Fire.
On the Balsinger Fire, there are a total of eight engines, two IA Modules, one dozer, and two Type 2 Water Tenders. A total of 54 personnel are assigned to the Balsinger Fire. As of Tuesday morning, the lightning-sparked fire has burned an estimated 1,666 acres. The early morning winds resulted in fire activity picking up earlier in the day than in previous days. The increased fire activity resulted in a prominent smoke column mid-day. However, most of the activity was within the fire’s existing perimeter, burning the areas between the spot fires. Engines were focused on assisting with structure protection should the need arise in the Belt Park area. A spot fire established on the south side of Divide Road, FS Road 839. An airtanker performed drops on the spots south of Divide Road, and was successful in its primary mission in protecting the structure along Divide Road. Air resources are being shared between the two fires. Two Type 2 helicopters and two Type 1 helicopters are performing bucket drops.
There are a total of 143 personnel assigned to the Divide Complex. Resources are spread very thin with many large incidents nationwide. The highest priority is to protect the safety of fire personnel and protect human life. Weather: Scattered showers and thunderstorms are likely over the burn area today. Some storms could produce brief heavy rainfall and strong wind gusts. It turns warmer and drier starting tomorrow, with little to no precipitation expected the rest of the week. Hot temperatures are expected over the weekend and into early next week