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Cooler weather slows Bridger Foothills Fire

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PHOTO BY ALLAN HATHAWAY

ROCKY MOUNTAIN INCIDENT MANAGEMENT TEAM

Updated Sept. 8, 2020 – 9:00 a.m.

Bridger Foothills Fire Statistics:

Size: approximately 7,138 acres

Containment: 0 percent

Total Personnel: approximately 300

Location: NE of Bozeman, approx. 2.5 miles up from M parking lot, near the Bridger Foothills trail

Reported: September 4, 2020

Cause: Under investigation

Resources Include: Air resources, including single engine air tankers, six helicopters, two Interagency Hotshot (Type 1) hand crews, 8 Type 2 hand crews, 15 engines, three water tenders and three dozers.  Many additional resources are on order.

Special Notes: There will be a virtual public fire information meeting this evening Sept. 8 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed on the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Facebook page and the Custer-Gallatin National Forest Facebook page. For those without Facebook, the meeting can be viewed via Zoom at this link: https://usfs.zoomgov.com/j/1612208600. An update on the status of the fire and evacuations will be provided by Incident Management Team members, Montana DNRC, Gallatin County Sheriff and Custer-Gallatin National Forest officials who are all working in close coordination on fire suppression.

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office will hold a “Relief, Recovery, and Support Day” for those directly impacted by the fire at Gallatin County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, Sept. 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. For further information see https://www.facebook.com/events/259439328430126.

Current Situation: Due to yesterday’s precipitation, fire behavior is expected to be minimal today. Firefighting crews and structure protection personnel will focus their efforts on the lower elevations of the fire in Divisions A, H, and Y. They will secure the fire perimeter in these areas and take precautions to ensure that fire does not further encroach on any structures. In the western portion of Division H, personnel will scout for opportunities to build direct hand and dozer lines to prevent further fire spread to the north. In Division D at the upper elevations of the fire, aerial reconnaissance will be used to locate future helispots for inserting hand crews and a spike camp. These crews will be used in coming days to secure the western edge of the fire. As always, safety remains our highest priority, so firefighters will be especially cognizant today of slick roads and slippery footing. 

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Bridger Canyon Fire Chief, and structure protection personnel will continue assessments of structures impacted by the fire on Saturday. Follow-up with homeowners will be accomplished as soon as possible.  

Weather & Fuel Conditions:  This morning, the entire fire area is snow-covered, with amounts ranging from a trace at lower elevations to 6-8 inches higher up. Fire behavior will be minimal today. Skies will be slowly clearing throughout the day, beginning a warming and drying trend that will continue throughout the week. High temperatures today will be 44-48 degrees with a relative humidity of 37-45 percent. Winds will be E 5-7 mph with gusts to 12 mph on ridgetops. Tonight’s temperatures will be 22-30 degrees in the valleys and 7-27 degrees above 7,000 feet. Humidity recovery will be 53-58 percent and nighttime winds will be E 5-10 mph gusting to 20 mph on ridges. Despite the precipitation, heavy fuels remain dry inside and continue to burn. Light fuels will dry quickly as the warming trend continues.

Evacuations and Warnings:   Several neighborhoods are in evacuation or evacuation warning status. Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office is coordinating allowing residents briefly back into their homes at specific times and for specific needs. For the latest information on evacuations see the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/gallatincountysheriffsoffice/.

Closures:  Hwy 86/Bridger Canyon Road is closed from Jackson Creek Rd. to Brackett Creek Rd. The Kelly Canyon road closure has been moved from I-90 to the intersection of Bridger Canyon Road. The Jackson Creak road closure has been moved from I-90 to the intersection of Jackson Creek Road and Laughing Horse Lane. The area closure for the Custer-Gallatin National Forest is listed on the Forest Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CusterGallatinNationalForest/.

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