Prescribed fire escapes near Helena, MT — evacuations taking place
27 August 2010
published by www.examiner.com
USA – On August 26 the Helena National Forest in Montana initiated a prescribed fire in the Virginia Creek area 11 miles southeast of Lincoln and 28 miles northwest of Helena. Thefire weather forecast for today for western Montana included red flag warnings in three areas with the possibility of dry thunderstorms. On Thursday the high temperature of 97 in Helena set a record that was two degrees higher than the highest ever recorded for this date. That, combined with strong winds and low humidities today contributed to “active burning and some spotting outside the planned fire area”, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service.
At 1 p.m. Thursday the Davis fire was officially declared escaped and was designated a wildland fire.Helenair.com reported that the fire was spotting a half mile to a mile ahead. TheAssociated Press reported that the fire was pushed by 30 to 35 mph winds.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday it had burned about 1,000 acres, structures were threatened, and the Sheriff had ordered evacuations of homes located at the top of Stemple Pass Pass over to Highway 279 (Lincoln Road). (UPDATE: late Thursday night the U.S. Forest Service said the fire had burned 2,000 acres.)
On Wednesday at theRAWS station in Lincoln the maximum temperature was 86 degrees, the minimum relative humidity was 13%, and the winds gusted up to 15 mph. Today at the same weather station the high was 91, the RH was 14%, and the maximum wind gust was 25 with an average wind speed of 5-10 in the afternoon.
The USFS said the prescribed fire was within prescription when they ignited it on Wednesday.