Lolo Peak Fire on Pace to be Most Expensive in Montana State History
Over the weekend, the total tab of fighting the Lolo Peak Fire crossed the $30 million mark and likely earned a place in the Montana history books. According to Fire Information Officer Mike Cole, who was at the Roaring Lion Fire and the Lolo Complex fire before that, this one is expected to be the most expensive.
"As of August 28, we're sitting at about $32 million, so this may be, if not THE, one of the most expensive fires in Montana... ever. When you have this many homes in an area of fire this large your costs go way up, and a lot of that is due to aircraft use."
The really bad news this Monday is that the weather appears to be working in the fire’s favor.
"Everything lining up to be a very hectic burning day throughout this area around Missoula. For example, we'll probably see relative humidity below 10 percent for the first time since we've been here, since July 15th. We have a measurement that we look at to determine the instability of the air over the fire, it's called a Haines index and it goes from one to six... today, it's a six."
Cole says a high Haines index is kind of like having the dampener open on a chimney, allowing the fire to grow in intensity. The fire has a massive perimeter now of over 100 miles and Cole says crews have done structure assessments on more than 1,000 homes threatened by the blaze. The fire’s proximity to homes Is the main driver of the high cost.