Aircraft Finally Reaching West Fork Fish Creek Fire – Evacuation Notices Still Remain for Mineral, Missoula Counties
Mineral County and parts of Missoula County underwent new fire evacuations this past weekend as the West Fork Fish Creek Fire continued to grow to over 12,000 acres. But within the past 48 hours, fire information officer Kim Smolt said clear skies have finally led firefighters to get eyes on the fire for the first time since the fire started.
"We can't get aircraft safely, you know, to the fly area when the visibility is as bad as its been the past few days," Smolt said. "It's not only our smoke, but it's the smoke from Idaho and Washington. It's been so thick that most of the aircraft has been grounded for days. Those are the resources we use for the most part is the helicopters, and they haven't been able to get up until today."
Smolt said originally, Clearwater Crossing was the primary area of concern since the fire blew up on Friday. Although the fire did burn through that area, the Hole in the Wall Ranch still stands, but a forest service administrative site lost three to five structures.
"In Missoula County they have pre-evacuation and evacuation notices. Petty Creek is in Missoula County so they're in pre-evacuation. That's not only because of the Fish Creek Fire, but also the Boulder Fire, which is just over the border in Idaho and southwest of Petty Creek. Fires generally move towards the northeast, so Petty Creek would be in line with that," Smolt said. "Combined with evacuation and pre-evacuation there's 300 people affected."
Smolt said the next steps towards containment is calculating an exact perimeter of the fire and putting in fire lines. As of today, the fire was at zero percent containment.