Crews battling lightning-cause wildfire near McAllister

Posted at 1:10 PM, Aug 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-03 15:10:14-04

MCALLISTER – Crews are fighting a wildfire reported Thursday afternoon in the Tobacco Root Mountains approximately five miles west of McAllister.

The lightning-caused fire is burning 15 acres on US Forest Service/BLM property boundary in the Virginia Creek drainage. According to a press release from the Dillon Interagency Dispatch Center, the fire was reported at 12:45 p.m. on Aug. 2, 2018, and is burning in heavy mixed conifer fuels with very heavy concentrations of standing and fallen dead trees on the ground.

30 firefighters, assisted by helicopters, were able to engage the fire and slow the spread that was moving toward private property and residences approximately one mile away in the South Meadow Creek.

Homeowners were alerted to prepare for possible evacuations, though no order was given through the afternoon or evening hours.

Firefighters will work to contain the blaze on the eastern side of the fire.

There is a red flag warning issued Friday for the fire area, with high winds, very low relative humidity and warm temperatures in the forecast.

Currently, there are no area closures, but recreationist and residents in the South Meadow Creek area should continue to be ready to evacuate if conditions warrant.

Smoke will be very visible for the next few days.

Another reported wildfire, the South Meadow Creek Fire, located half mile southeast of South Meadow Lake in the Tobacco Root Mountains was checked on by fire crews on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. Crews did not see any smoke or feel any heat but will continue to monitor the situation.

The South Meadow Creek Fire was also lightning-caused and was reported on the evening of July 25.

Firefighters from the Madison Ranger District and Madison Rural Valley Fire Department provided the initial response that evening. The fire is located approximately ½ mile southeast of South Meadow Lake in the Tobacco Root Mountains and was burning at an elevation of 9,000 feet in very steep, inaccessible terrain with large amounts of standing dead trees.

A helicopter was used July 26 to drop water on the fire to cool it and minimize spread.

Visitors to the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest are advised to be cautious with fire by making sure their campfires are completely out and cool to the touch before leaving, and by keeping vehicles on roads as grass and shrubs are dry and easily ignited.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.