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Monday update on the Divide Complex fires

Posted at 10:11 AM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 12:11:32-04

GREAT FALLS — The Balsinger Fire and Ellis Fire are being managed jointly as the Divide Complex fires. A Type 3 Incident Management Team is in command of the fire, being led by Incident Commander Zach Saavedra and trainee Brad Tausan.

A community meeting was held on Monday at 4 p.m. in Neihart Community Park. Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter was there to address attendees, along with representatives from the Incident Management Team and the U.S. Forest Service were available to answer questions.

  • If you were unable to attend, call the fire information line at 406-272-6349; the line is staffed from 8am to 8pm with general information.

The Balsinger Fire is now estimated at 1,688 acres, with no containment as of Monday; it was sparked by lightning. An evacuation order from the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office remains in effect for residents of Belt Park due to the Balsinger Fire.

The Ellis Fire has burned an estimated 1,058 acres and is 25% contained; the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

There have been no injuries reported, and no reports of damaged structures.

The Divide Complex has 249 personnel assigned. This includes five Type 2 handcrews, one Type 1 hotshot crew, sixteen Type 6 engines, one Type 5 engine, two Type 4 engines, one Type 3 engine, three dozers, one skidgen unit, and three water tenders.

For the next operational period, resources on the Balsinger Fire will focus on keeping the fire north of the Divide Road, addressing any slop-overs and connecting burned areas together eliminating unburned fuels. Structure preparation continues in the Belt Parkway area. On the Ellis Fire, mop-up and securing existing fireline will take place on the northern flank. Ignitions to secure the fire perimeter may occur in the western portion. Two Type 2 helicopters and one Type 1 helicopters are available for bucket drops and other support missions.

Divide Complex Fire

Weather: “Red Flag Warning” in effect – 12pm to 9pm on 7/19. High pressure aloft will continue to bring hot temperatures, light winds, and low RH percentages on Monday. Mid-level monsoonal moisture pushing northeastward from the Great Basin will bring an increasing chance for showers and dry thunderstorms Monday afternoon and evening. A chance for showers and thunderstorms is also expected on Tuesday with a slightly better chance for wetting rains. Minimum RH percentages will drop into the upper teens on Monday and the upper 20s to lower 30s on Tuesday with poor recoveries each night.