After $8.8 Million Spent, Lolo Peak Fire Continues to Grow – Evacuation Warning May be in Place Until Snowfall
Now at nearly 7, 500 acres, the Lolo Peak fire continues to expand. Few fire trucks are working the fire because of the extremely rugged terrain, most of which hasn’t burned in over a century. Fire information officer Mark Struble says that air power has been the main heavy equipment on the blaze.
“We’ve got five helicopters dropping water and retardant, mostly retardant from our portable plants that we have out there and quite a bit is being dropped, thousands of gallons every day on the edge of this fire, trying to stem the flow so to speak. We’ve had to expend about 8.8 million dollars on this fire so far, it’s tenacious and it’s going to take a while.”
A control line has been under construction on private property down near the base of that fire, but there are secondary lines a bit further up the mountain that include roadways that may be used for engines if the fire expands that far. It very well may: an evacuation warning was issued for the area at the beginning of August.
“It’s been a full week now, [since the evacuation warnings],” Struble said. “We’ve had some people ask us, well, are you going to pull that out? Are we not going to have that warning any longer? And the answer is ‘no,’ it’s going to be in place, I think, until the fire goes out, if we get a big rain or snow, and it’s only August so it will be a while before that happens, or if the fire were to burn down to one of those secondary lines.”
Struble says the fire is now about two and a half miles away from the nearest residences, which are up in the Mill Creek area.