Firefighters in full-on attack of Ridge Fire
A “super scooper” aircraft from Bridger Aviation in Bozeman gets water from the Hungry Horse Reservoir Monday while fighting the Ridge Fire near Martin City. (Chris Peterson photo).
Firefighters are in the midst of a ground and aerial assault of the Ridge Fire south of Martin City. On Monday sortie after sortie of “super scooper” aircraft, an assortment of helicopters and retardant tankers attacked the blaze.
On the ground, crews were cutting both hand lines and dozer lines, depending on their positions around the fire, which is about 2 miles from town.
Thursday could be the most challenging day, according to National Weather Service meterologist Jeff Kitzmiller. Highs will be in the upper 90s with ridgetop wind gusts up to 35 mph. The winds will be from the west and southwest, which at least drives the fire away from town.
All told, about 482 personnel are on the fire.
“They’re using about 35 to 40 gallons of (chain saw) bar oil a day,” said fire information officer Mark Thibideau.
Crews are cutting a hand line in the Coram Experimental Forest, which contains valuable research plots of western larch. They are not cutting dozer lines in the forest.
Based on maps, the fire perimeter has impacted at least half of the 7,600 acre acre plot.
But the fire is not one black mass, it is largely mosaic, with hot spots of stand replacement fire where everything burned, to areas where it was ground fire and the overstory survived.
Larch and Douglas fir often survive ground fires as long as their canopy doesn’t burn over.
There’s a pre-evacaution notice up from the Spotted Bear Road to West Glacier east of Highway 2.
The fire is listed at about 3,100 acres and 15% contained.
The Tin Soldier Complex near Spotted Bear is also a concern, particularly the Bruce Ridge Fire, which is about 2 miles east of Spotted Bear. Crews have been doing structure protection work around the ranger station and ranches in the area should the fire make a run.
It’s about 2,700 acres.
The Doris Ridge Fire is also showing signs of life on the west side of the Hungry Horse Reservoir. It is on the west side of the mountain in steep terrain and is low priority.
The weather is expected to cool over the weekend, with highs about 80 on Sunday and Monday and there’s even a chance of rain.