Jul 27, 2017

Western Montana Lightning-Sparked Wildfire Prompts Evacuations

Montana
USA
by
Pam Wright
,
The Weather Channel
Nathan Smith of Arlee fills a 6,000 gallon portable tank with water at a residence off Quartz Road near Lozeau as smoke from the Sunrise fire rises in the background on Monday. On Wednesday, evacuations were ordered and the fire became the highest priority in the nation. Photo: Tom Bauer, Missoulian
Nathan Smith of Arlee fills a 6,000 gallon portable tank with water at a residence off Quartz Road near Lozeau as smoke from the Sunrise fire rises in the background on Monday. On Wednesday, evacuations were ordered and the fire became the highest priority in the nation. Photo: Tom Bauer, Missoulian

Authorities in a western Montana county have ordered residents to evacuate their homes as a wildfire approaches.

According to KPAX, the Mineral County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday that about 60 homes and other structures in the Sunrise Creek and Quartz Flats areas are under siege from the so-called Sunrise fire, which is burning 11 miles southeast of Superior in the Lolo National Park.

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The lightning-sparked blaze started July 16 and has grown to more than 5 square miles, reports Inciweb.

Mike Behrens of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest told KPAX the more than 400 firefighters battling the blaze are facing numerous challenges, including difficult terrain and dry conditions. 

"As far as containment, I hate to say this but given some of the driest conditions fuels wise and no forecasted moisture any time soon, at least in the next couple three weeks, this is a fire that's going to be around until the end of fire season, unfortunately," he said.

A ridge of high pressure aloft that has persistently focused heat in southwest Canada and the northern Rockies this summer will re-establish itself into next week, leading to more hot and dry weather, said weather.com senior meteorologist Jon Erdman. 

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Meanwhile, firefighters have made progress on the nation's largest wildfire burning near the Missouri River in eastern Montana.

The week-old Lodgepole Complex fire, which is now 62 percent contained, has burned more than 422 square miles and destroyed more than two dozen homes.