The following is an update released by the Montana DNRC:

Dahl Fire Update

Contact: Fire Information Phone: 406-493-5934

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 1, 2012 8:00 p.m.
FIRE NAME: Dahl Fire
DATE OF DETECTION: June 26, 2012

CAUSE: Lightning

CURRENT SIZE: 22,045 acres

CONTAINMENT: 75%

EXPECTED CONTAINMENT: July 4, 2012

LOCATION: 12 miles southeast of Roundup, Montana

AGENCY: Montana Department of Natural Resources

FIRE MANAGEMENT TEAM: Unified Command: Northern Rockies Incident Management Team, Incident Commander Greg Poncin, and Musselshell County Emergency Operations, Incident Commander Jeff Gates.

TODAY’S ACTIVITY:

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been extended until 11 p.m. this evening.

Fire lines have held so far today and into the evening despite the forecast weather. Firefighters continued mop-up and improving fire lines throughout the day and into the evening. The predicted frontal passage stalled over the Continental Divide earlier today and will now arrive over the fire later this evening, bringing increased winds. As a result, there will once again be firefighters on the fire lines tonight.

The Hawk Creek fire experienced a small blowout over the fire line this afternoon due to increased winds but was quickly suppressed by firefighters.

A similar frontal passage with thunderstorms is still predicted for Tuesday, followed by extremely hot and dry weather.

An updated structural assessment has accounted for 223 structures lost, including 73 residences and 150 other buildings.

TOMORROW’S WEATHER AND PLANNED ACTIVITY:

It will be a little cooler tomorrow, with firefighting efforts aided by temperatures reaching the mid-80’s and relative humidity up to about 25%. Winds will be out of the northwest at 5-10 miles per hour. Firefighters will continue to strengthen lines and mop-up around both the Dahl and the Hawk Creek fires. Initial Attack resources will be available for any new fire starts that may occur as a result of this evening’s thunderstorm activity. As a result of reduced fire activity, the process of demobilizing fire resources will begin so they can be made available to other new fires in the West.

PERSONNEL AND RESOURCES ON THE FIRE: There are currently 335 fire personnel assigned, including seven 20-person crews, 6 helicopters, 27 engines and 2 skidgines.

SPECIAL CONCERNS: Vehicle traffic on US Highway 87 remains a major safety issue for firefighters and residents as firefighting equipment enters and exits side roads from the highway.

CLOSURES: The temporary flight restriction (TFR) for the fire area remains in effect beyond the fire perimeter and 10,000 feet above the fire in order to safeguard aerial operations.

SPECIAL MESSAGES: The evacuation order was reduced to voluntary compliance on Friday, June 29th, and will remain in effect until further notice. Residents have been allowed back into the evacuation area at their own risk but are under a 1-hour evacuation notice in the event that fire activity increases and poses a threat to their safety. If evacuations become necessary, use extra caution driving while exiting the fire area.

The speed limit on US HWY 87 is 35 mph. Drivers are not allowed to stop or pull over. Only residents and firefighters are allowed on the side roads.