Fire Season Dies Slowly

 Lightning strikes spark new fires close to home

This fire, north of Morrell Lookout and visible from Seeley Lake, grew to 30 acres over the weekend while slurry bombers, helicopters and ground crews worked to contain it. Donna Love photo

September 21, 2000
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana

Fire restrictions have been lifted, but the fire season is dying reluctantly with lightning strikes sparking four new fires in our area last Friday night.

One, the Swamp Fire, north of, and below, the Morrell Lookout was readily visible to Seeley Lake residents who watched the fire make a run on Saturday while slurry planes flew sorties overhead.

John Agnar, fire crew supervisor at the Seeley Lake Ranger Station, said Tuesday the fire was 80 percent contained at 30 acres, and that required a force of 54 firefighters including four smokejumpers, a Lolo Hot Shot crew, a unit from the Plains Ranger district, a Seeley Lake crew, and a 20-person, all-woman unit from the Blackfeet Tribe.

All except the all-woman unit were still on the fire Tuesday as well as two helicopters with water buckets.

Agner did not know how many passes were made by slurry bombers, but there were several, he said.

An additional eight smokejumpers went in above the Swamp Fire to attack another fire over the ridge called the Chaffin Camp Fire. They were kept busy quelling scattered starts.

Two other fires, also sparked by lightning Friday evening, erupted across from Big Larch campground, and at Florence Lake on Rice Ridge. Seeley Lake Volunteer Firefighters and DNRC crews responded effectively to the Big Larch fire and Seeley Lake Ranger crew hit the Florence Lake fire. Both were kept to less than an acre.

Agner hopes these last fires are the "last hurrah" for this year's season, but cautioned everyone, including hunters, to be aware that we are still significantly below normal moisture, the woods are still dry, and susceptible to fire as this past weekend demonstrates.

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