To-date 50 fires have been reported and responded to on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. Firefighters responded to all of these fires immediately.
Three of these fires required extended attack strategies -- Alice Creek, Park and Arrastra -- all located near Lincoln and started by lightning. With our partners, over 50 days have been spent battling these fires with firefighters spending extended time away from family doing hazardous work and making difficult decisions daily.
Alice Creek is currently the most challenging fire. Upon ignition, it was inaccessible to vehicles and heavy equipment, so hand crews and aircraft led the suppression effort. Firefighters are working directly on the fireline whenever it is safe. Aided by Forest Service airtankers and helicopters, DNRC and Montana Army National Guard helicopters, firefighters are working to keep the fire off of private land and protect structures. At times, conditions they face -- numerous falling snags, steep and rugged terrain, sustained critical fire weather -- are too dangerous and firefighters come off the fireline and focus efforts where they can safely make a difference.
Fire managers regularly make difficult decisions to prioritize resources based on what a fire is threatening (people, homes). When the Holmes Gulch fire ignited, most aircraft was rerouted from Lincoln to Helena, along with 65+ Forest Service firefighters and multiple engines, to help successfully and safely contain that fire. Currently, resources are prioritized to safely protect life and property threatened by the Alice Creek Fire.
William Avey is the supervisor of Helena - Lewis and Clark National Forest.