Montana firefighters battle on

BY PJ HELLER | WEST GLACIER | September 4, 2001



"We've got over 1,200 people out on the fire today."

—Scott Brayton


Firefighters

resumed their battle Tuesday with the 56,000-acre Moose

fire in Glacier National Park, attacking the fire both

on the ground and from the air. Crews were called off

the lines on Monday and air tanker drops were halted

early in the afternoon after winds gusted up to 40 mph,

making conditions to dangerous for firefighting.

The blaze, which was started by lightning Aug. 14,

spread into Glacier National Park last Friday and has

charred about 14,000 acres there. The fire was about

five percent contained Tuesday.

"We've got over 1,200 people out on the fire today,"

said Fire Information Officer Scott Brayton with the

Bureau of Land Management. "Our main emphasis is on

structure protection and to get water drops out on the

flanks of the fire." Forecasts for Wednesday called for

cooler temperatures with a slight chance of showers.

The fire forced the evacuation of about a dozen families

living outside the park. A shelter was set up in

Columbia Falls. No homes were damaged or lost and no

injuries were reported.

Glacier National Park remained open to visitors except

for the north end, Brayton said.

Meantime, the National Interagency Fire Center reported

six new fires on Wednesday, including four in Montana.

One new fire was reported in both Idaho and

Nevada."(Fire) conditions continue to be very high to

extreme," noted Janelle Smith, an agency spokesperson.

"Overall throughout the West conditions are pretty hot

and dry."

Other fires were reported burning in California, Idaho,

Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Wyoming,

and Washington. The Moose fire in Montana was the

largest and most active fire. The 43,000-acre Rex Creek

Complex fire in the Wenatchee National Forest in

Washington was 65 percent contained. The complex of

fires was 34 miles northwest of Lake Chelan in the

Sawtooth Wilderness.

One firefighter died Monday in Montana after being

struck by a falling tree while battling a small fire at

the Lost Trail ski area about 95 miles from Missoula.

The 24-year-old Bitterroot National Forest firefighter

was killed while battling the Labor fire, which was

about a five acre fire reported Monday. The victim was

not identified pending notification of next of kin.


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