Western Montana Fire Explodes, Winds Push “Wall of Fire” to Over 1,000 Acres
The Seepay Creek Fire has been burning for over a month, but it took a very nasty turn during past 48 hours growing from about 700 acres on Tuesday, July 12 to over 1,000 acres by Thursday morning.
"It's about an hour away from Missoula, sort of to the northwest," said Fire Information Officer Bob MacGregor. "It's on Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribal land. It's grown to 1,031 acres now, the fire made a little bit of a run yesterday afternoon. There was a big windstorm in front of a big thunderstorm that pushed it to the northwest."
The windstorm reportedly pushed "a steady wall of flame" with gusts up to 47 mph on Wednesday afternoon. Those same winds also damaged the fire camp by knocking personnel tents and a logistics yurt.
A Type II management team was called in to handle the blaze on Tuesday, right before the fire exploded and there are now 110 personnel combating the blaze.
"The good thing about this fire is that it's sort of tucked in up here above the Flathead river, up in the hills," Macgregor said. "It can move toward the Lolo National Forest if it goes to the south, and it could move down toward the town of Perma, but there's not a lot of values at risk right now if it stays in the drainage."
Good communication and accurate weather warnings allowed fire crews to pull back from the blaze before the winds picked up on Wednesday, sparing the crew from any severe injuries.