MISSOULA – The long-awaited end to fire season appears to finally be near.
With a wet weather system knocking on the door, and another following shortly behind, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Or at the very least breathe.
The Lolo Peak Fire Incident Management Team feels the same.
“We’re cautiously optimistic about the incoming weather,” said Lolo Peak Public Information Officer Derek Ibarguen. “We’re able to make plans to go more direct on areas of the fires of concern. We’re always analyzing how many resources we have and where we need to scale back a little bit.”
For nearly two months the fire has been wreaking havoc, covering over 52,000 acres and prompting numerous evacuations. The fire is just 45 percent contained.
If the wet, cool weather systems forecasted over the next several days are as strong as expected, crews can begin to re purpose their efforts. Still, there will be plenty of work to get done.
“There’s suppression repair, and where the lines have been put in, mechanical equipment and hand lines, so the repair work has to continue,” Ibarguen said. “And then there is mitigation for any damage that may have been caused to the area where you want to prevent any future issues from a watershed perspective.”
As for those evacuated, good news has already come for some while others still await the word that it is okay to come home.
“Several evacuation warnings have been lifted and the operations folks from the incident are constantly working with the sheriff’s department here in both counties where this fire’s been affected to look at opportunities where those can be changed,” Ibarguen said.
All of this is welcome news and a promising sign that, after weeks of wondering what the Lolo Peak Fire was going to do next, the beginning of the end is finally here.
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