Thursday, June 28, 2012

SE Montana wildfire grows to 150,000 acres

A fast-moving fire has burned bridges on US212 near Ashland and Lame Deer, Montana and isolated at least one partially-evacuated town. At post time Inciweb has yet to update the Ash Creek Fire. Missoula teevee outlet KPAX sez that another fire nearby on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, the Coal Seam Fire, has spread to at least 700 acres.

Many homeless are expected. More from Lorna Thackeray at the Billings Gazette:
"This thing's huge," said Chris Pileski, district administrator for the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. "Yesterday was an extremely dangerous fire, and it still has the potential to be that." The fire, thought to have been ignited by lightning, was reported about 4 p.m. on Monday in the Ash Creek area about five miles east of Lame Deer, then spread east and south toward Ashland.
At 09:54 MDT winds are calm with 18% relative humidity in Ashland.

Thousands of lightning strikes in the last 24 hours have sparked more fires than managers can currently assess. Smoke from western wildfires is affecting air quality from Mexico into Canada.

From the New York Times Green Blog:
According to Craig Allen, a research ecologist with the United States Geological Survey in Los Alamos, N.M., forests in the region have not been regenerating after the vast wildfires that have been raging for the last decade and a half. Dr. Allen, who runs the Jemez Mountains Field Station at Bandelier National Monument, says those forests are burning into oblivion and grasslands and shrub lands are taking their place. “Rising temperature is going to drive our forests off the mountains,” he said. Seeking to preserve existing systems is futile, he said.
The area burning in SE Montana was historically sage steppe with scattered Ponderosa pine, aspen and oak, with cottonwoods in more moist areas feeding the Tongue and Powder Rivers. Now it is inundated with dense pine stands after a century of fire suppression.

Update, 29 June, 06:32 MDT: Inciweb catches up, calls it 110,000+ acres and growing.

4 comments:

Nadene Deiterman Greni said...

Larry! I just returned to your comments on Madville Times where you made the connection of our hometown!! I usually link to Madville through Cory's Facebook posts. I had always wondered if you were THE Larry Kurtz I knew from Elkton. We need to catch up...

larry kurtz said...

Welcome, of course! Please tell me you're a Democrat, girl.

larry kurtz said...

Wildfire Today lists the Ash Creek Fire at 157,000+ acres.

Nadene Deiterman Greni said...

Thanks for the welcome! Yes, I am a lifelong Democrat... well, at least since I was old enough to vote!!