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Montana fire spreads nearly unchecked

Posted on 07/29/2007 8:37:39 PM PDT by JohnA

Hot, dry and windy weather helped a wildfire near Glacier National Park grow to roughly 5,000 acres on Sunday and continue to threaten an evacuated lodge.

The blaze had grown from 1,000 acres a day earlier and was just 2 percent contained, fire information officer Dale Warriner said. The fire was running into heavy timber.

On Sunday, authorities reopened a highway near the park in northwestern Montana, but they warned that U.S. 2 could be closed again if the blaze flared up.

Guests and 18 workers at the Summit Station Lodge along the highway remained evacuated as flames burned within a mile, owner Jorge Simental said. The number of guests was not immediately available.

Fire crews were protecting the lodge and tearing down some trees that were close to cabins, he said.

No other structures were threatened, but officials in Pondera County asked residents of Heart Butte to be prepared to evacuate if needed. The community of about 700 people is 18 miles southeast of the blaze.

"We're not going to call for an evacuation until it gets within 10 miles, so we've got some time," said Clete Gregory, the county's disaster and emergency services director.

"We just don't want to have to pull a surprise on everyone in the middle of the night," he said.

Near-record heat and low humidity also fueled blazes elsewhere in Montana, with similar conditions forecast for Monday.

A fire north of Helena was keeping people away from recreation areas and homes. The blaze, which had charred nearly 10 square miles, was 10 percent contained on Sunday, fire managers said.

Elsewhere, a dozen homes were ordered evacuated Sunday in California's Santa Barbara County as a massive wildfire burned across 1,500 new acres, continuing a growth spurt for the nearly month-old blaze that had appeared to be standing still.

Warm and very dry weather during the night allowed the fire to burn through old, heavy trees in the Los Padres National Forest on its uncontained southeast side, officials said. The blaze has charred about 32,000 acres, or 50 square miles, since it started July 4 and was 70 percent contained Sunday.

An evacuation order was issued for the Peachtree Community, about 12 homes spread over a wide area of the forest. Smoke drifted over Santa Barbara more than 40 miles away and was reported in Bakersfield some 80 miles away, officials said.

Residents of another 200 homes were told to be prepared to flee at short notice,

A 1,030-square-mile fire in southern Idaho and northern Nevada was 86 percent contained and was near full containment, officials said.

TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Montana
KEYWORDS: aervice; forest; wildfire

1 posted on 07/29/2007 8:37:44 PM PDT by JohnA
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To: JohnA

We were there about 2 weeks ago. Very beautiful area.

2 posted on 07/29/2007 8:38:47 PM PDT by MamaB
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To: All
No big deal. Just posted this as YahooNews has it on their Most Recommended list.
3 posted on 07/29/2007 8:39:20 PM PDT by JohnA
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To: MamaB

It’s gorgeous. Been through many times, including for skiing Big Mountain.

4 posted on 07/29/2007 8:40:10 PM PDT by JohnA
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To: JohnA

That was one of our day trips while on the train from Seattle to Jackson Hole, WY.

5 posted on 07/29/2007 8:44:28 PM PDT by MamaB
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To: JohnA

August is going to be a bad one if there isn’t any rain and the lightning storms come. We are getting ready for the forests to be locked down pretty soon.

Hopefully it won’t be as bad as it was in 03.

BTW Big Mountain has been renamed to Whitefish Mountain Resort. New owners for fog mountain!

6 posted on 07/29/2007 8:59:53 PM PDT by montomike (If you didn't find this funny or amusing...have a worldwide riot.)
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To: montomike

Everybody called it Whitefish anyway. Many fond memories, including meeting my future wife there for the first time.

7 posted on 07/29/2007 9:14:43 PM PDT by JohnA
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To: All
I don't suppose there's any benefit in mentioning that Bill Scott, of Aviation Week, says

A Russian Ilyushin Il-76 has seen service overseas, yet a variety of political factors, resistance among veteran firefighters and severe cost constraints have kept the approximately 11,000-gal. tanker offshore.

Some great work being done by this airplane in the Balkans right now. Russia has at least 4 of them.
8 posted on 07/29/2007 9:28:37 PM PDT by JohnA
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To: JohnA

if you haven’t yet had the chance to eat pizza and drink a cold beer at moose’s saloon in kalispell then you are missing out on one of the great pleasures in life !

highly recommended !

9 posted on 07/29/2007 10:13:56 PM PDT by malamute
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To: All

There were some bad fires last year near our south-central Montana land. The government policy of not allowing dead timber to be removed from the forest greatly exacerbates the fire damage.

10 posted on 07/29/2007 10:39:28 PM PDT by Montanabound
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To: malamute
Been there; done that.

I agree. Super atmosphere at Moose's and good food too.
11 posted on 07/30/2007 5:10:36 AM PDT by JohnA
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