Montana Outdoors

August 29, 2017

Wildfires at sunset

Filed under: Wildland fires — Tags: , — montucky @ 9:12 pm

Fire at sunset

So far this fire season the local area here has been relatively free from the fires. That changed rather abruptly late this evening when suddenly there were two, one about 20 miles to the north and one a little closer to the south.

Smoke plume

The fire to the north was behind a mountain range and all that could be seen from here was the helicopters ferrying water to it. This is the smoke plume from the one to the south.

Fire at sunset

This photo caught one of the helicopters as it began its vertical descent to the river to fill the water bucket that is trailing below it. I anticipate getting more photos as the fires progress. The one to the south appears to be burning in the Cherry Peak Roadless Area and my guess is that it will become a very large one.

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August 1, 2017

Distant fire

"Distant

As the rays of the setting sun kissed the grass by the road to the lookout last night, the smoke from a fire filled the sky to the south.

August 2, 2016

Copper King fire, western Montana

On Sunday, July 31 a wild fire started up at the west end of KooKooSint Ridge about 8 miles east of the small western Montana town of Thompson Falls at about 3:00 PM. In the first few hours it grew to 200 acres.

Meanwhile, a close friend was working with a contingent of volunteers on the restoration of the lookout cabin on Big Hole Peak which is located about three miles from the fire and directly down wind from it. At about 5:00 the restoration crew was evacuated from the lookout so my friend (who had hiked up to work in the morning) had the pleasure of another three mile hike back down to the staging area and return to the valley leaving most of his equipment behind.

On Monday morning the Forest Service sent a crew by helicopter up to the Big Hole Lookout to retrieve all of the equipment and wrap the cabin with fire resistant material. By then the fire had grown to 700 acres.  While we had nothing much else to do we decided to see if we could go get a good look at the fire, and made the drive up to the Eddy Peak lookout which is on the other side of the Clark Fork Valley about two miles due south of the fire. That lookout is manned and has a road up to about half a mile from the lookout itself. We arrived at the tower just in time to see an air tanker drop its entire load of retardant on the fire. I had barely enough time to change my camera to a telephoto lens before the retardant run began. It was a great opportunity for a few photos and a rare opportunity to photograph a big air tanker run from above. (The fire was at an elevation of about 5500 feet and the Eddy Peak lookout sits at about 7000 feet.) The photos of the tanker run were taken from the lookout tower.

The air tanker is a four engine jet I believe to be owned by Neptune Aviation in Missoula Montana and it’s a BAe 146 (#02) aircraft which carries a load of 3000 gallons of retardant (about twelve tons).

Photos from the base of the Eddy Peak lookout overlooking the Clark Fork Valley:

Clark Fork Valley from Eddy Peak

Clark Fork Valley from Eddy Peak

Clark Fork Valley from Eddy Peak

Clark Fork Valley from Eddy Peak

Copper King fire

Sequence of photos of the air tanker retardant run:

Copper King fire

Copper King fire

Copper King fire

Copper King fire

"Copper

Copper King fire

Copper King fire

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