Observation Fire Nearing 1,000 Acres as Top Firefighting Team Takes Command
The Observation Fire south of Hamilton has tripled in size this week, and is over 900 acres as of Thursday, June 30.
Fire Information Officer Anne Rys-Sikora is a member of the Type 1 Incident Management Team, which is shadowing today and will take over management of the fire at 6 a.m., July 1.
"We are use to dealing with complex wildfire situations, this is what this team does," Rys-Sikora said. "They travel nationally to wherever the need might be. It's early in the season, so this is really the first big, Type 1 Incident in the Northern Rockies for 2016, so we were here with less than a days notice."
The Type 1 team will take over for a Type 3 incident Management team. According to Rys-Sikora, hot weather, strong winds and the holiday weekend helped convince the Bitterroot National Forest Service to jump to the highest level management team possible.
"The terrain is really tough, it's loose and rocky," Rys-Sikora said. "It's steep, with boulders that roll and break. It is very dangerous to put folks on this fire, especially the western flank. We are very in the season, it's June, this is normally fire activity we see in late July, so that's alarming to fire managers. We want to get this under control and let local citizens enjoy their holiday weekend."
Rys-Sikora says firefighters believe they have a strong anchor point to keep the fire from burning towards homes along the 93 corridor. Right now, the fire is about a mile and a half from those homes.