By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

Evacuations Lifted for Parts of Seeley - New Team Happy with Progress

 

September 7, 2017

Zone 1 Map - The area that was down graded from an order to a warning just before 6 p.m. tonight

OVANDO – The Community meeting started with an announcement that the evacuation order in parts of Seeley Lake was lifted. Greg Poncin's Type 1 Incident Management Team is happy with the progress they have made in the past couple of days due to the cooler temperatures and hope to continue progress through the rest of the week.

Meeting Highlights:

• Evacuation ORDERS were downgraded to evacuation WARNINGS in Zone 1 which affects approximately 429 homes. Zone 1 extends east from Highway 83 with the northern border being Cedar Street and the Southern border being Whitetail. Included streets are Cedar, School Lane, Locust, Redwood, the north side of Whitetail to Timberland, Morrell Creek Drive, Pine, Oak, Elm, Spruce, Larch, Juniper, Tamarack, Sequoia Court, Fir Drive, Cottonwood, Badger Court, Chipmunk, Lynx, Laurel, Cougar, Black Bear Court, Wild Turkey, Perch, Bass Court, Crawfish, and Salmon. This includes Seeley Lake Elementary School and Seeley-Swan High School. Residence here should still be ready for a short notice evacuation ORDER should fire conditions change.


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• No projection was made for those still evacuated in the Seeley Lake. However when the conditions are safe for people to return to their home, they will be allowed to.

• There are currently 16 uncontained large fires in MT and ID. The hurricanes are draining emergency resources. The competition of resources is only going to get worst in the next couple of weeks. The Montana National Guard is training six hand crews to help on the Lolo Peak Fire. If there is a critical need, there would be an opportunity to draw on those resources.

• The fuels have not been this dry since 1910. The old burn scars are not acting as a barrier, but they do moderate fire behavior. Spotting is the biggest challenge.

• The northwest corner is still causing containment problems. While it is not making runs, it continues to spot across containment lines. Operations is hoping to get the area "buttoned up" and have put the Flathead Hotshots on the line to wrap it up. Once the area is contained resources will be moved east.

• Firefighters continue to mop up the area north of Seeley Lake. There has been no spotting today and the progress has been good.

• East of the Seeley Lake Airport along Cottonwood Lake Roads firefighters are continuing to remove fuels so they can hold the fire north of Cottonwood Lakes. Crews will continue to work to bring the fire down to the road in a few areas on their terms using aerial ignition from the top of the slope to the bottom.


• Operations hopes to tie the fire on the eastern edge into the North Fork of the Blackfoot River. They hope to keep it from merging with the Park Fire burning northwest of Lincoln.

• The north and northeast sections burning into the wilderness are not staffed.

• Structure protection is setting up sprinkler systems and maintaining those already in place. Something that is helpful to firefighters is local knowledge. The community is encouraged to share information about the roads including structures, roads, access and weather information.

• DNRC is out helping with structure protection and doing assessments on structures in the pre-evacuation order. Call the Clearwater Unit if you would like your home assessed, 244-2381.

• Poncin's team is also managing Liberty. Today they focused on the southeast portion to keep it out of the Blackfoot corridor and the north to keep it from coming back to Arlee.

• Air operations has been limited the last couple of days because of the inversions. They got another helicopter assigned to the fire. They will be shifted to the area of highest priority.

The next community meeting is Thursday in Seeley Lake at 6 p.m. The location is yet to be determined.

Members of the community line up to ask Operations Chief questions.

 

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