This release was sent out by Public Information Officers Bob MacGregor and Arlee Staley.
A continued moist weather pattern limited fire behavior on the Seepay Fire on Thursday. Fire growth was less than 10 acres. A light rain blanketed the fire area until approximately 11:00 a.m.
When clearing skies in the afternoon started to allow fuels to heat up a line of thunderstorms blew through and wetted them down again. Thursday’s thunderstorms did not pack the high winds that accelerated fire behavior on Wednesday. Fire managers used the decreased fire growth potential to look for direct line construction opportunities.
Crews, from as far away as Minnesota and including elite Hot-shots, are implementing a confine and contain strategy to maintain firefighter safety while protecting values at risk. Helicopter crews were briefed on how to protect the rare population of Westslope cutthroat trout that occupy the Seepay watershed during their water dropping operations.
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Resource Advisor Ira Matt talked to fire personnel about the numerous cultural and religious sites that occur throughout the Flathead River Valley and in the fire area and methods to mitigate disturbance during fire suppression activities.
Firefighters were also warned about the dangers posed by wildlife including rattlesnakes, hobo spiders, human-habituated bears, cougars and a nearby wolf-pack. Incident objectives remain primarily to protect firefighter and public safety and additionally to contain the fire within the Seepay-Magpie Roadless Area.
Today’s weather forecast calls for continued thundershowers throughout the day with a 60% chance of wetting rain. Temperatures are unlikely to exceed 70 degrees and relative humidity will be in the high fifty percent range. This type of weather has not historically promoted fire growth so firefighters will take the opportunity to look for more aggressive direct line construction opportunities and the chance to catch spots in problematic areas.
The unpredictability of thunderstorms will continue to keep firefighters aware of dangers from lightning strikes and falling snags. This weather pattern will continue into Saturday before a short warming and drying trend is forecast to begin.