Smoke has been visible in the southern part of the Bitterroot coming from the lightning caused Lost Horse fire, located 10 miles southwest of Hamilton in the Bitterroot Mountains near Brandy Peak. It was discovered July 25 at approximately 4 p.m.
The fire is burning in extremely steep and rugged terrain, near the top of the ridge, making it inaccessible on foot for firefighters and preventing helicopters and rappellers (from helicopters) from being able to safely land and access the fire. Terrain includes steep cliffs, rock outcroppings, screes, and boulder fields with rocks the size of vehicles. Even if firefighters could access the remote location, they cannot dig fire line through rocks weighing several tons.
On July 26, helicopters dumped 72,900 gallons of water on the fire and an air tanker dumped 4,000+ gallons of fire retardant.
As of Monday afternoon, resources on the fire included multiple aircraft (four helicopters) doing bucket work and air tankers have also been dropping fire retardant to limit the spread. A Type 3 Incident Management Team from the Bitterroot National Forest is now managing the fire. Fire camp is located at Darby High School. Additional fire crews (40 wildland firefighters) were scheduled to arrive on Monday, July 28.
There is no immediate threat to structures or closures at this time.
Some smoke has also been drifting into the valley from at least two fires burning on the Nez Perce-Clearwater Forest directly west of St. Mary’s Peak.
In related news, a Bitterroot National Forest firefighter missing since Sunday afternoon was found alive by search crews Monday afternoon. He was located walking along a forest road, several miles from the fire he was hiking to on Sunday. The firefighter is currently being transported to the hospital. His condition is not known.
The effort to locate the missing firefighter was led by Ravalli County Search & Rescue and involved multiple aircraft and more than 50 searchers. They were assisted by the Bitterroot National Forest, Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, and Granite County Search and Rescue.
For latest fire information go to http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4009/