MISSOULA, Mont. - A Flash flood watch for burned-out areas in the Lolo Creek Complex Fire kept Lolo-area residents on edge on Tuesday. The watch is scheduled to stay in effect until 9:00 p.m. Tuesday.
Fire crews and residents within or near the burn areas are advised to seek higher ground away from narrow canyons after rainfall begins.
Burned out, steep areas are especially vulnerable to flash flood conditions, because the lack of vegetation and charred land means rainwater isn't soaked up as easily, and instead continues downhill.
Forest Service worker Matt Gibson tells NBC Montana that crews have been fighting the Lolo Creek Complex Fire in some steep, canyon-like areas, and if the weather gets dicey enough, crews will redirect their efforts. Teams have one excavator in the hills, and they can order more to respond to flooding and debris if needed.
Crews have been partly working the Woodman Gulch area, not far from Woodman School. There, students have been keeping up-to-date with evacuation procedures. In the event of a flood-caused evacuation, students would be brought to Lolo School or a community center.
Residents looking for more tips on how to prepare for flash floods can read this FEMA fact sheet.