Fire Watch 2012

Sep 7, 2012 12:09 PM by Breanna Roy - MTN News

Idaho, Montana crews team up to tackle massive wildfire

WEST FORK- Overnight mapping shows the massive Mustang Complex Fire has now burned over 250,000 acres, mostly in Idaho.

But now that the blaze is making its way through the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana. The two states are working together to manage it.

The power of fire knows no boundaries, and the Mustang Complex Fire that's already burned hundreds of thousands of acres in Idaho, didn't even slow down once it hit Montana.

"I wish it was as easy as just saying 'stop,' but that's a lot of energy and the fire is gonna, you know, it's a force of nature," Bitterroot Side Operations Chief Dan Dallas said.

It's proving to be powerful and relentless, and it's so big that there are nearly 1,000 personnel assigned to battle the wildfire.

An auxiliary camp has been established in Montana at Scripp's Ranch, north of the fire, to help reduce drive time of resources traveling from one side of the fire to the other.

"It's a tremendously large fire. It takes, for instance, just to give people a sense of it, it takes about two hours just to fly around it in a helicopter," Dallas explained.

Montana's Hughes Creek could be a path the fire chooses to take, so firefighters have been helping residents by surrounding all structures with sprinkler systems.

The historic ranger station at Alta still has its protective shield from when the Chrandal Creek fire came close in July, and fire managers are hopeful that once again the fire won't ever reach there, but they know it's just over the mountain.

"I know on the Idaho side, some of the bigger-run days they were having over there, they were having you know runs around 5 miles, they would cover 5 miles worth of country and that could be an entire drainage," Juliet Division Line Supervisor Jeremy Crowie said.

For now, all they can do is hold out, and hope for the best.

"This fire will eventually go out when the snow flies. So until that time, we're just trying to keep it as small as we can acreage-wise and certainly herd it away from the values that we're trying to protect," Dallas said.

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