Eureka Fire Evening Update, August 17
Incident: Eureka Wildfire
Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest
Northern Rockies Type II Incident Management Team
Daily Fact Sheet
Fire Information: (406) 459-8225 August 16, 2013 7 p.m.
Office hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Incident: Wildland fire, lightning-caused, reported on July 25, 2013
Location: 38 air miles south of Ennis, Montana
Incident Commander: Tom Heintz
Approximate Size: 2,400 acres reported at 3:00 pm August 16 Containment: 5%
Resources: Hand Crews: (3) Type I crews Engines: 13 Total personnel: 191
Heavy Equipment: 1 Dozer, 2 Water Tenders Air Support: (4) helicopters
Cost to Date: $500,000 Injuries: None
Fire Update: A Northern Rockies Incident Management Team assumed management of the Eureka Fire at 6:00 am today. Tom Heintz is the Incident Commander. The potential for growth and continued spread of the fire toward the Northeast is recognized by the fire managers and is a real concern with the predicted weather for this area. The Eureka Fire is burning in pockets of whitebark pine, intermixed with subalpine fir. The amount of tree mortality is high. The fire is consuming the down, dead, woody material. The team is preparing a plan to address possible fire behavior in the near term and a longer term strategy.
Structure protection efforts overnight protected the West Fork Cabin. The fire remained active thru the night and the weather conditions accelerated fire activity and spread today. The fire has spotted north of Coal Creek with movement toward the area known as “Rebish Sheep Headquarters”. The fire does remain west of FS Road 290. Tomorrow’s operations will include point protection around structures north of the fire. Our helicopters and crews will continue to focus on keeping this fire west of the Gravelly Range Divide where Road 290 runs.
The humidity today was in the single digits, accompanied by temperature in the 80s. Winds were from the south and east in the teens with gusts near 30 mph. Humidity overnight tonight is not expected to show much recovery. Saturday’s weather should be a few degrees cooler with slightly higher humidity and lighter winds. We are expecting the fire behavior be similar to what was exhibited today.
Whitebark pines are of special concern to Forest Service and fire managers. They provide a significant food for a number of wildlife, including grizzly bears, Clark’s nutcrackers, and red squirrels. A special population of this tree species can be found within the fire’s perimeter. This population has genetic traits that make it critical to the future of this tree in southwest Montana. A number of individual trees have been tested and found to be resistant to a fungal disease called white pine blister rust. Blister rust is an exotic disease that was introduced to the western US and Canada about 100 years ago. Whitebark pine is a host to this fungus and infection can cause tree death. By saving these living whitebark pines from fire, future cones and seeds will be available for the production of new seedlings, resistant to the disease that can be planted across the landscape. About 80% of the mature whitebark pines in the Eureka Basin have been killed by mountain pine beetle over the past decade. The few remaining live mature trees in the Basin are crucial to the regeneration of the species in the area and elsewhere.
Closures: Elk Lake to Hidden Lake road is closed. Trails number 6019 and 6035 to Hidden Lake are closed. The Gravelly Mountain Range Road is closed from its junction with the Ruby River Road to its junction with the Standard Creek Road.
Special Concerns: New fire starts!
Attention Media: For visits to the fire area, call the information staff at the temporary (406) 459-8225 number.
More Information: Visit Inciweb at inciweb.nwcg.gov, select Eureka, or call (406) 459-8225.