Lolo Fire ‘Shows No Mercy’ With Structures and Vehicles Lost
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - With numerous new wildfires around western Montana over the weekend, Sunday evening also brought Missoula Rural Fire, and several other agencies with a total of 52 firefighters to a wildland grass fire in Lolo.
KGVO News spoke to Missoula Rural Fire Chief Chris Newman about the blaze that was reported just after 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The Wind Driver Fire 'Showed no Mercy' for Structures or Vehicles
“At around 5:30 p.m. we got a call for what came in initially as a grass fire,” began Chief Newman. “En route, crews were notified that structures were threatened, and by the time our crews arrived on the scene which from our from our station was about five miles to the scene, but when they got there we already had a couple of structures that were actively burning along with along with a couple of vehicles.”
Chief Newman said crews immediately began the attempt to contain the fire, but winds gusting at nearly 40 miles per hour 'showed no mercy' and made that effort impossible.
The Winds Were Gusting to Nearly 40 Miles Per Hour
“Our crews went to work and trying to limit the damage as much as possible and get some containment on that on that fast-moving fire,” he said. “The wind unfortunately was our biggest enemy in the afternoon. Estimates were about 30 to 35 mile per hour winds when the call came in.”
Newman said numerous firefighting agencies rallied to the scene to assist in the effort to contain the blaze.
“We had Florence Rural Fire District who came out came out to assist, Missoula City Fire Department, along with the East Missoula Fire Department,” he said. “Then the U.S. Forest Service and also DNRC engines joined in and we also got to saw crews from the Forest Service, along with the aerial help that I was just talking about. I believe we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 52 firefighters eventually on scene.”
The Fire was Accidental, however, it was Human Caused
Newman said his fire investigators had just returned to the station and determined the fire was accidental, but still human-caused.
“There was a mobile home loss and also one damaged,” he said. “There were four shops and or garages that were lost along with 12 outbuildings and sheds that were lost and another 11 vehicles or RVs that were also lost or damaged. The investigators actually just finished up not too long ago. It was definitely accidental though the cause is unknown. It was definitely human-caused.”
Chief Newman said three civilians were treated for smoke inhalation and one firefighter suffered a knee injury.
The incident occurred in the Mormon Creek Road area of Lolo.