As firefighters continue to maintain gains on several wildfires in southwest Montana, two new small fires have broken out about 9 miles southeast of Wisdom near Elbow Lake.
The first fire was detected around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and the second at an unknown time Wednesday, according to a news release from the Wisdom Ranger District.
The Elbow Lake fires are within a quarter of a mile of each other, are lightning-caused, and have a combined size of two acres.
Eight fire personnel from Wisdom and Wise River fought the blazes Thursday, digging a fire line by hand and scouting for hot spots. The ranger district said crews will be assisted with water drops if needed, favorable visibility permitting. Containment stood at 40 percent as of Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, crews continued to contain the nearby Stone Lake Fire, located about 15 miles southwest of Wise River.
Discovered Sunday afternoon, the fire is located in the Whitebark Pine area. The lightning-caused fire stood at 8 acres Thursday morning and was at 70 percent containment, up from the previous day’s containment of 25 percent.
Fire personnel continued Thursday to scout for hotspots outside the main perimeter and cleared away debris.
Weather could become an issue for fire crews Friday.
A red flag warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for an unstable southwest flow with gusty, erratic winds that could bring thunderstorms. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid 80s with ridgetop winds measuring 10 to 20 miles per hour with 25-mile-per-hour gusts.
The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest also modified its Stage 1 fire restriction to prohibit all campfires and charcoal grills. The restriction is to remain in effect until Saturday.
Here are updates on other area fires:
Containment lines were tested substantially by strong winds Wednesday, but crews were able to maintain gains on all of the fire’s flanks.
As of Thursday morning, containment remained at the previous day’s containment of 75 percent as personnel worked from multiple directions to connect containment line on the fire. Crews patrolled for hotspots and cleaned debris in contained areas as helicopters supported ground-based efforts with water bucket drops.
The 2,727-acre fire was started by lightning Aug. 24.
MOUNT HAGGIN FIRE
Containment on the 10-acre Mount Haggin Fire grew from 10 to 20 percent Thursday, said Jordan Koppen, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.
Koppen described the fire as “not very active” and “pretty quiet” and said that the blaze should be contained in approximately one week but could have a few puffing events.
The fire was first reported Monday afternoon 1 mile northeast of Mount Haggin in steep terrain west of Hearst Lake in the Anaconda Range. Twenty-four fire personnel are on the scene, along with helicopters.
Koppen said Wednesday lightning was most likely the source of the fire, but an exact cause is still under investigation.
Fire growth Wednesday slowed to moderate levels due to increased cloud cover and humidity, but winds intensified fire activity in the afternoon with one 49-mile-per-hour gust recorded in the area.
Two hot spots were identified Wednesday east of the containment line near the end of Moose Lake Road, but fire crews were able to extinguish them. Crews also continued efforts to keep fire from residences at Frog Pond.
Sparked by lightning July 14 about 25 miles southwest of Philipsburg near Moose Lake, the Meyers Fire remained at 23,603 acres and 5 percent containment as of Thursday morning, showing no gains in containment from the day before.
The Frog Pond area remained under an evacuation order Thursday, while evacuation warnings were in effect for Moose Lake residents and residents on East Fork Road between Forest Service Road 5778 and Little East Fork Road. There are also private residences in the area of Springer Memorial Park.
Fire officials held a public meeting Thursday night at the Granite County High School library in Philipsburg, and another public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at the Sula Community Club House on East Fork Road in Sula for an update on the Meyers Fire only.