Montana Outdoors

August 10, 2007

Chippy Creek fire, day 10

Today’s weather forecast included a “red flag alert” for fire danger, meaning warm and dry with very low humidity and high winds in the afternoon, exactly what you don’t want if you’re fighting a wildfire. Just the kind of day to check on the Chippy Creek fire.

By this morning the fire had grown to 55,000 acres and the leading edge of it was about 15 miles from where it began 10 days ago. When I went to check on it this afternoon, I figured the smart thing to do would be to get right in front of it.

Now that’s an interesting place to be, even a long way in front of it, but from that vantage point all that could be seen was smoke. It was like being inside a huge light blue balloon. A side view appeared to be a better option and I’m glad I chose it. I moved only about 5 miles from front center and found an observation spot at exactly the right time to catch the fire explode when the wind velocity reached what I would guess was about 30 mph.

I selected the following five photos from about 30 that I shot today. They were taken from the same location over the course of 30 – 45 minutes, and display the progression of the fire that the wind created. As a matter of size perspective, there’s a dark dot at the top edge of the brown grass, about a third of the way in from the right side of the frame. It’s easiest to see in the first photo. That’s a fairly good sized haystack, made of the giant round bales.

Chippy Creek fire

Chippy Creek fire

Chippy Creek Fire

Chippy Creek fire

Chippy Creek Fire

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