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West Lolo Complex wildfires update, community meeting planned

Fires being managed under a full suppression strategy
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Posted at 9:30 AM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 14:43:33-04

The West Lolo Complex wildfires are now at an estimated 1,240 acres and now threaten 20 structures, according to officials. A community meeting is scheduled for later Monday, July 12.

The Community Meeting will be held at the Plains Ranger District, 408 Clayton Street, Monday, July 12, at 6 p.m. This meeting will be open to the public and streamed live on the West Lolo Complex Facebook page.

All fires are being managed under a full suppression strategy. The fires have been prioritized by the values at risk with public and firefighter safety as the number one priority. Other considerations include minimizing impacts to local communities, private property and structures, timber resources, highway corridors, and recreation improvements.

At this time, limited firefighter resources are focusing their efforts on fires located on the Superior Ranger District due to the high probability of success in containing these fires which includes Sunset and Deep Lookout Mountain.

Thunderstorms on July 7, 2021, started multiple wildfires across the Lolo National Forest. U.S. Forest Service personnel in coordination with local cooperators and response partners actively engaged the fires. The western portion of the Forest, which includes the Superior and Plains-Thompson Falls Ranger Districts, experienced the most lightning activity.

Superior Ranger District:

Sunset Fire: 19 acres, located up on the Dry Creek Divide, eight miles south of St. Regis

Deep Lookout Mountain Fire: 270 acres, located on the upper reaches of the Deep Creek Drainage, north of I-90, 12 miles east of Superior, and five miles west of Stark Mountain Lookout

The Sunset Fire remains at 17 acres with no further growth due to the solid progress made by firefighters. Fire crews are reinforcing containment lines and mopping up. Mopping up is a suppression tactic used to reduce residual smoke after the fire has been controlled by extinguishing or removing burning material along or near the control line, cutting down hazardous trees, or moving logs so they do not roll downhill.

The Deep Mountain Lookout Fire was active yesterday and crossed onto the Ninemile Ranger District. The majority of the growth was to the east. Firefighters will continue work establishing a containment line around the fire today, supported by aerial resources and heavy equipment.

Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District:

Siegel Fire: 19 acres, located 3-4 miles up the Siegel drainage northeast of Quinn’s Hot Springs

Sheep Fire: 3 acres, located on the west of the Clark Fork River across from Quinn’s Hot Springs, ½ mile of the ridgeline, and visible from Highway 135 and Highway 200

Cataract Fire:1 acre, located east of Cataract Ridge

Winniemuck and Thorne Creek: 928 acres, located North East of Thompson Falls

Yesterday resources were assigned to the Cataract fire and began to build a fire line around the fire’s perimeter. Fireline construction and mop-up activities will continue today.

Yesterday, the Sheep fire did not increase in size and fire activity was moderate with creeping, smoldering, and some interior isolated tree torching. Today, firefighters will continue reinforcing the fire's perimeter and implementing mop-up operations.

Yesterday, firefighters focused their efforts on keeping the Siegel fire within existing containment lines. Progress on the fire was stalled as firefighters aggressively took action on a spot that resulted from rolling debris in the steep, rugged terrain. Today, firefighters will continue their work constructing fire line around the perimeter. Helicopters will continue to be utilized for bucket drops as conditions allow.

The Thorne Creek and Winniemuck are burning in close proximity to each other and both fires saw limited growth yesterday. These fires are located in steep, rugged terrain, in heavy dead, downed fuels in the Cube Iron/Silcox area and, in their current location, pose an extreme risk to firefighter safety. Fire managers conduct aerial reconnaissance daily assessing where and when to gain access while developing a full suppression strategy. Smoke will be visible from these fires and, at times, could be significant. Fire managers are continually monitoring all fires from the ground and air and will reprioritize the use of limited resources if threats to the values at risk change.

All fires are being managed under a full suppression strategy. Firefighters have made good progress containing fires initially assigned to the West Lolo Complex and those fires are fully contained and have been reassigned back to the local Ranger Districts. Resources on those fires and limited additional resources assigned to the West Lolo Complex, have moved to fires that have been prioritized by their threats to values at risk and are focusing their efforts where there is a high probability of success.

Nationally, the Northern Rockies area is the highest priority due to multiple new large incidents and the historic number of Incident Management Teams assigned. Fire activity is high in many locations across the country and fire resources are limited. To view a summary of fire activity nationally and incident management team assignments please visit https://www.nifc.gov/nicc/sitreprt.pdf [nifc.gov].

Weather: Hot, dry, unstable conditions will continue today with light winds. Tuesday will see similarly conditions with a slight chance of a high-based shower or thunderstorm.

Evacuations, Closures, and Additional Information: