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Divide Complex Update: new management team to take over fire operations

Some evacuation orders lifted on Woods Creek, American Fork Fires
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Posted at 12:16 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-11 14:21:20-04

HELENA — The Southern Area Incident Management Red team will transition off the Divide Complex Fire this week. Fire management will be handed over to Rocky Mountain Team 1.

The transition comes after a new fire was detected on Tuesday. Air crews discovered the fire northwest of the Woods Creek Fire. Planes and ground crews attacked the fire and have kept it to around seven acres. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

Fire managers also report that crews continue to find beneficial moisture from Sunday's rain on the wildfires.

American Fork

The American Fork Fire is now listed at 19,523 acres and is 10 percent contained. The management team said conditions on the fire looked good on Tuesday, but pockets of heat still remain near Shields River, Lodgepole Creek and Loco Mountain. Smith Creek and Shields evacuation orders were reduced to pre-evacuation notices.

The fire is burning in the Crazy Mountains southwest of Harlowton.

Evacuation orders update for American Fork Fire:

  • On August 9, Park Co Sheriff’s Office has downgraded the Shields River Road evacuation to pre-evacuation status. Meager County has done the same with the Smith Creek area. This is due to favorable weather and fire behavior but could change as needed. The county roads in the area are open; however, there are still closures in the forest
  • A pre-evacuation order remains in place for residences in the Shields River Road area.
  • On Monday, August 9, the Meagher County Sheriff’s Department downgraded the Smith Creek evacuation notice to pre-evacuation.
  • A pre-evacuation order for Smith Creek subdivision was issued by the Meagher County Sheriff’s Office.

Balsinger and Ellis Fire

The Balsinger and Ellis Fires saw now change in growth or containment since Tuesday. Officials say fire activity continues to be reduced by Sunday rains. The Balsinger Fire saw the most rain of the four fires managed as part of the Divide Complex. Structure protection remains in place along the Highway 89 corridor to protect the communities of Neihart and Monarch, both about four miles from the fire’s edge. A shaded fuel break has been completed and plumbed to protect Monarch.

Fire crews will begin removing some equipment from the area Wednesday.

Evacuation orders update for the Balsinger and Ellis Fires:

  • An evacuation order for Belt Park, issued by the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, remains in place.
  • A pre-evacuation order was issued for the area from the Belt Creek Ranger Station to Monarch and from west of Monarch to the confluence of Pilgrim Creek and Belt Creek.

    Woods Creek Fire

    The Woods Creek Fire grew to 46,691 acres and is now listed at 5 percent contained. Crews report minimal fire behavior in areas sheltered by the rain, but add that green pocket in the interior of the burned Tuesday.

    On Wednesday, crews are working directly at the fire’s edge and mopping up around Confederate Gulch, establishing a fireline northward

    Evacuation order update for the Woods Creek Fire:

    • The Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office has lifted an evacuation order in connection with the Woods Creek Fire. Effective August 11, 2021 at 1000 hours, the landowners and residents of Upper Duck Creek Road, Upper Gurnett Creek Road, Upper Confederate Road, Ambush Drive, Battle Drive and everything from Upper Gurnett to White’s Gulch east and west of Highway 284 may return to your homes. covering everything east of Highway 284 between Gravely Lane on the north and Dry Gulch Road on the south. Ray Creek is on high alert. Highway 284 remains open.
    • A mandatory evacuation of six cabins and Big Birch Creek is in place.
    • The Meagher County Sheriff’s Office issued a Pre-Evacuation Notice for residents on Birky Road and Ramspeck Lane around 5 p.m. Saturday, 8/7.
    • The Meagher County Sheriff’s Office issued a Pre-Evacuation Notice for Grassy Mountain residents north of Highway 12.