Red Shale Fire Fact Sheet
Incident: Red Shale Wildfire
Fire Information – Red Shale Fire
USDA Forest Service Photo, 7/23/13
Tuesday July 23, 2013 - 3:00 PM
Contact: Rocky Mountain Ranger District
Office (406) 466-5341
Detected: July 18, 2013
Location: Upr. Red Shale Cr. in the Bob Marshall Wilderness
Legal Location: T24N.,R11W.,portions of Sec.22,23,25,26,27,28,34,35,36
Jurisdiction: Rocky Mountain Ranger District, Lewis and Clark National Forest
Current size: 2351 acres
Fire Activity: The Red Shale Fire was detected by the Beartop Lookout at 4:30 p.m. on July 18 as a small amount of white smoke rising from an area where lightning strikes had been observed the night before.
The fire is burning in upper Red Shale Creek, west of the North Fork Sun River. It is burning near the Gates Park area in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. District fire managers flew over the area on July 23, and estimated the fire to be about 2330 acres. It continues to burn within the 1988 Gates Park Fire area, in heavy downed and standing dead timber and pockets of thickly regenerating lodgepole pine.
Management Actions: The area is remote and difficult to access, deep within the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Eight firefighters are stationed at the Gates Park cabin and five additional crewmembers will be hiking in to join them tomorrow. In addition there is a Type III helicopter stationed at the Choteau airport that is being used to support the fire. Structure protection has been completed at the Gates Park administrative site and Gates Park pack bridge. Plans for tomorrow are to complete structure protection at the Wrong Creek administrative site and Rock Creek cabin. Along with Beartop Lookout these crews will be closely monitoring the fire.
Fire personnel are currently evaluating potential risks to the public, to fire management personnel, and to resources, along with the potential fire behavior and spread, and are developing a long-term plan for managing the fire. The short term forecast continues to call for warm temperatures with little chance of moisture over the next 5 to 7 days. Risks to firefighters are significant, with no safety zones or escape routes due to the heavy downfall, abundant hazardous snags, and dense young lodgepole pine. The fire is clearing much of the 2-to-3 foot high downfall and opening up the thick regrowth of lodgepole pine saplings that has blanketed the area following the 1988 fire.
Restrictions and Closures: The North Fork Red Shale Trail #130 was closed on Sunday, July 21 for public safety. On the afternoon of July 23 this closure was expanded to include all trails within the Sun River Game Preserve, located west of the North Fork Sun River from Rock Creek Trail #111 on the south to Sun River Pass on the north. All forest visitors travelling in the backcountry are urged to use caution and be observant to changes in weather and fire behavior. There are no campfire restrictions in effect at this time.