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Butte command center doing double-duty for Beaver Creek, Goldstone fires

Posted at 3:46 PM, Aug 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-21 17:57:16-04

BUTTE – An incident command post is located approximately 50 miles between the Goldstone fire to its south and the Beaver Creek fire to its north.

They decided to consolidate the command center for both blazes because of its proximity to the two fires and also this is the best way to utilize the already highly-taxed resources to fight fires across the U.S.

“There is a big resource issue because there are so many fires across the nation and it goes on a priority list and we are a little further down on the priority list because we are not dealing with evacuations, we are not burning homes,” said Arlee Staley of the U.S. Forest Service.

Because these fires a located in very remote areas communications has been one of the biggest challenges.

“We have both the Goldstone fire and the Beaver Creek fire about 50 air miles apart, then we have to set up a repeater system that links up here at incident command post with those firefighters on the ground,” said Deputy Incident Commander Carl Schwope.

The command center’s main street doesn’t look like your typical Main Street, USA, but at this incident command post, it’s designed to operate just like any village. It’s got everything they need.

It’s hard to predict what these fires will do, current weather conditions have slowed down the fire somewhat.

“We have two groups of logging equipment that are making fuel breaks and the north and south side of the fires and it’s really dense timber, pretty deep slopes too, but we’re clearing 100 foot swaths with logging equipment and our intention is to set a burnout and backfire for both of those north and south,” said Operations Chief Buck Wickham.

They have crews here from all over the country as well as Montana fighting the fires. The firefighters could be working the blaze for as long as two weeks and could be extended if necessary.

The Goldstone fire is more than 9,000 acres and the Beaver Creek fire has burned more than 2,000 acres.

Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News