The Blackfoot Valley Dispatch is the only newspaper devoted to Lincoln, Montana and the upper Blackfoot Valley and has been the best source for local news from Lincoln, Ovando, Helmville and Canyon Creek since 1980. With a circulation of more than 650 in 37 towns across Montana and in 25 states, we reach an estimated 1500 readers each week. We are member of Montana Newspaper Association and are working hard to provide our readers with the best possible local news and advertising. We appreciate feedback, so let us know what you think and how we can improve.You can contact us at 406-362-4131 of by email at firstname.lastname@example.org Check our new ' Recent stories' page for selected stories from recent editions
Sept. 21 Headlines
Rain, snow and a sigh of relief
Lady Lynx varsity netters crush Valley Christian
Dalton Mountain Bridge reopened
Guest Editorial: Fuel and Fire – A Case for Federal Forest Management and Reforms
Letter: Told you so
Jail overcrowding risks, consequences highlighted ahead of bond request
Memoir faces the consequences of a wild hippy youth
Finding relevance within the weave of willows
Weather necessitates schedule, venue changes for this week’s “Festival in the Wild” activities
Jr Hi Volleyball A Team brings home the honors
Fall football takes center stage Geary: The lasting price of not being bucked off
Rain, snow and a sigh of relief
A lightning strike July 14 started Lincoln’s fire season. Exactly two months later, rain and snow brought it - almost - to a screeching halt. In less than 24 hours, the storm system that swept in out of the northwest nearly dealt a knockout blow to fires in the area that just a couple weeks ago had the term ‘no end in sight’ assigned to them. “I think there was a collective sigh of relief last Thursday when that weather moved in,” Lincoln District Ranger Michael Stansberry said. The storm system brought them much needed rain, cooler temperatures and, most importantly, increased humidity, that has helped firefighting efforts across Montana. But it was the fires in the Lincoln area that seemed to see the biggest benefit. “It was kind of an interesting system,” said Brian Harris, a public information officer with the Alice Creek Fire. “It ended up just parking itself right here. It stayed over this area for about a three-day time frame before it moved out. If it hadn’t done that it would have been a quick little rainstorm and gone, but with it sitting here for that amount of time, it put down some moisture for sure.” Between Sept. 14 and Sept. 16, the system dropped more than two inches of precipitation in the form of rain and snow across the Alice Creek Fire straddling the Continental Divide. Just the day before, the area had seen an active fire day that consumed nearly 1300 additional acres and destroyed private logging equipment and a contract fire engine in the Silver King Ranch area. The Park Creek Fire north of Lincoln saw between a half an inch to an inch of moisture that included snow in the higher elevations, which stopped the fire activity around Arrastra Peak cold. “Before the rain, the fire added about 40 acres around Arrastra Peak,” Park Creek Fire PIO Carissa Silvis said. “It tried making one last push to the west before the cloud cover came in, and it was pretty impressive because there was a column coming up that Wednesday.” The column, though impressive, proved short lived. By the time Silvis climbed the hill behind the rodeo grounds for a look, cloud cover had already dampened it. “It was kind of like putting a cap on the fire saying, ‘No, you’re done.’” Although some areas, including the Rice Ridge Fire, saw less precipitation, the lower temperatures and increased humidity helped diminish fire behavior and aided firefighting efforts. Though the fire season appeared interminable not long ago (the Farmer’s Almanac even forecasted no significant moisture through January), Stansberry said some of the long-time Lincoln residents were spot on when they told him that a storm system reliably moves into the area every year within a day or two of Sept. 14. With the fire laying down and sudden cold weather raising concerns about hypothermia, managers on both fires pulled firefighters off the lines and focused on recovering equipment, hoses and pumps. Muddy conditions were also a limiting factor, due to efforts to prevent additional ruts and damage that would require additional rehabilitation. “It’s just mostly trying to get equipment in,” said Silvis. They were still patrolling the southern perimeters last weekend to make sure fire didn’t cross the containment lines, she said. Although a warm up in October may allow the fires to flare up, they’re unlikely to return to the level of intensity seen over the summer. “If we just got this one system, it would take anywhere from five to eight days to dry everything back out to get to the condition we were before the weather system came through,” Harris said Sunday. “That’s not in the forecast though. The forecast shows another cold front is coming in.” However, Stanberry is sticking with his assessment that the storm was a season slowing, rather than season ending event, particularly on the Park Creek fire. “It seems like there is still some heat over there,” he said. “There’s still some firefighting work to be done over there.” He said the possibility of the fires flaring back up is “on the radar.” “I would expect we’re going to get some interior burning and we’re going to still see smoke in October,” he said. With persistent moisture and a favorable forecast came the decision to demobilize both the North Idaho Type 3 incident management team, which has handled the Park Creek fire for the last four weeks, and the Great Basin Team 2, which had managed the Alice Creek Fire. Dave Hamilton, fire management officer for the Montana Department of Natural Resource Central Land Office, took command of the Alice Creek incident Monday and management of the Park Creek Fire returned to the Lincoln Ranger District yesterday. The moisture also prompted Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton to lift the evacuation orders in the Alice Creek Fire area late last week. Road closures were still in effect Tuesday for Alice Creek Road, Copper Creek Road at the Landers Fork Road junction and McDonough Road, but will be re-evaluated after the next weather system passes. Stansberry is working on lifting the closure on Beaver Creek Road this week, and adjusting the area closures. “What I’ll probably end up doing is putting the closure around the fire perimeter for both fires,” he said. The 418 hiking trail to Stonewall and the Arrastra Creek trail leading into Meadow Creek will also remain closed. Stansberry wants to make sure people understand that, if the closure is lifted, the fire is still up against the Beaver Creek Road. People may see smoke rising in the area, but he said the District is monitoring it. People also need to remember that higher humidity and fuel moistures that have increased sharply in the heavier fuels doesn’t mean the threat is gone. Harris pointed out grasses and fine fuels dry quickly. That fact was proven Sunday when a person in Helena sparked a 93-acre grass fire after deciding the rain had made it safe to burn. At press time, Lewis and Clark County was still under enhanced Stage I fire restrictions and Powell County remained under Stage II restrictions. The National Weather Service forecast Tuesday afternoon predicted additional snow and rain for the Lincoln Ranger District, throughout the remainder of the week, with high temperatures from the upper 30s to the lower 50s.
Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.