Reuters called it the perfect storm. : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Bad conditions in the Rockies. Many of the fires in Montana and Idaho are in the process of combining. Firestorm

Report is 300 new fires started from strikes yesterday.

After this article was posted the fires have combined further to give a 250,000 to 300,000 acre blaze. Nothing like '52 or '10 but still impressive from the air. Looks worse than the '88 Yellowstone fires. Could have been the d

-- DB (, August 27, 2000


In Montana, 2 raging infernos join forces

Bitterroot, Mussigbrod blazes make nation's largest fire group

August 26, 2000 Web posted at: 9:37 p.m. EDT (0137 GMT)

In this story:

Officials say 82 fires burn nationally

Idaho to close half a national forest

'We don't have any ... break in forecast'

Five battalions to fight blazes by Labor Day


From staff and wire reports

HELENA, Montana -- Two wildfires in Montana came together in the Bitterroot Valley and along the Continental Divide on Saturday to become the largest blaze group in the United States, a federal official said.

In what is being called the worst Western fire season in 50 years, seven new fires began overnight and raised the prospect of an even tougher battle in the coming days for the 22,000-plus firefighters working the fire lines across 12 states.

E. Lynn Burkett of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said the Bitterroot Valley and Mussigbrod fires in the Big Hole River drainage had linked up and covered an estimated 247,000 acres.

"That is the biggest fire complex in the region," she said. "It's a lot and, with a fire of that size and magnitude, it will take a significant fall weather event to stop it -- like rain or snow."

Neither was evident on Saturday. Instead, a "red flag" alert was posted to warn Montana and surrounding states of scattered, dry thunderstorms with lightning, gusty winds and low humidity through the weekend as a cold front rolled through, Burkett said.

Officials say 82 fires burn nationally

The NIFC reported 82 fires nationally on Saturday -- most in the West -- that had spread across 1.5 million acres. Montana alone had 25 fires on nearly 660,000 acres.

Seven large fires started up while nine were contained by Friday night, fire officials said. The affected states are Montana, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Washington, Oregon, South Dakota and Florida. The risk of large wildfires was also high in Texas, North Dakota and Oklahoma.

In south-central Washington, National Guardsmen joined firefighters trying to keep a 110,000-acre blaze away from two small towns.

At midday on Saturday, only a ridge stood between the fire and Prosser, a town of about 5,000 people.

"We really don't want it to pop over that ridge top," said fire information officer Cynthia Reichelt. "We're using dozers to clear everything away ... and trying to backburn where we can, so if we get high winds we'll be ready for it."

An evacuation plan has been prepared for Prosser and nearby Mabton, which has a population of about 1,700.

"We're prepared for that but we haven't had to go there yet and, hopefully, we won't have to," Reichelt said.

The blaze was begun by lightning on Wednesday and destroyed 24 buildings on and off the Yakama Nation reservation. Fifty homes were evacuated.

Idaho to close half a national forest

Idaho is suffering 26 major fires that cover 700,000 acres, including the nation's biggest single fire, which has devastated 180,000 acres of the Salmon-Challis National Forest near the Montana state line.

Fire officials said that more of the Salmon-Challis would be closed on Monday, making about half of the 5 million-acre forest out of bounds to hunters, fishermen and campers.

One of the Montana fires was the 84,000-acre blaze near Townsend, between Helena and Bozeman, that has shut down a major power line in the past two weeks and separated ranchers from their cattle herds.

On Friday, 52,000 gallons of fire retardant halted flare-ups of the blaze. Information officer Dan Kincaid said the situation would become "dicey" if the wind hit 35 mph, as predicted for this weekend.

Ed Bloedel, a Bitterroot National Forest official, said "all fire lines are bracing" for the passing weather front.

"We're not putting any crews in where those conditions may get them in trouble," he said.

'We don't have any ... break in forecast'

Jim Stires, another NIFC spokesman, said the fires seemed to be getting worse by the day.

"We don't have any short-term or long-term break in the forecast. We're looking at a couple of frontal passages within the next week and we're very concerned about the wind."

With the size of the fires being so immense, Stires said the NIFC's efforts were focused more on protecting people and less on fighting the blazes.

"It's really almost the new paradigm in firefighting, wildland firefighting," he said. "It's more community protection at this point than it is actual containment and control."

Firefighters got a boost Friday from President Clinton, who ordered an additional 500 Army troops to the fire-ravaged West.

The president's move is part of a widening federal effort to commit even more troops and personnel to combat the wildfires, which show no signs of letting up.

On Friday, a 500-soldier Army battalion from Fort Campbell in Kentucky arrived in Montana for wildfire duty. Next Monday, those troops will be joined by another battalion from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

And within the week, a Marine battalion from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will join firefighting efforts, said deputy White House spokesman Jake Siewert.

Five battalions to fight blazes by Labor Day

The administration's goal is to have five full battalions, 2,500 military personnel, on the front lines by Labor Day, with one fresh battalion held in reserve, Siewert said.

Three military battalions are currently part of a contingent of 22,000 federal, state and local firefighters battling blazes throughout the tinder-dry West.

The Clinton administration is also moving at least 1,000 federal middle managers to the region to handle the immense logistical problems of feeding, housing and paying firefighters.

The Interior and Agriculture departments plan to deploy middle managers throughout the Western states, where they will help in the issuance of paychecks and other basic services to 13,306 federal employees committed to the firefighting effort.

They will bring extra pay, too. For various legal reasons, many federal firefighters cannot receive overtime pay. In lieu of overtime, the administration will make lump-sum payments, although the amount has yet to be determined.

-- JSI (, August 27, 2000.


Thanks for the update. These fires don't mean too much to folks here on this site: you have to live through them; or as in my friend Z's case fight them. I have walked these mountains and know the vallies. It is sad. Such a loss for our time. They will grow back. The worry is the structures and the lives of people who live there. It looks bad from the air. I lost the site of photos from the 1910 fires: really awesome. It was a microsoft moment. I haven't found them since then

-- DB (, August 27, 2000.

Are you referring to the same "Z" that posts on this forum? If so, I wonder how he could possibly have time to fight fires between all of his flights all over the world to big-shot research conventions and scientific meetings. I would take what he says with a grain of salt if I were you, that guy is a notorious bullshitter.

-- (, August 27, 2000.

This destruction may not mean much to most of the urban types on this forum, but I live in a similar area, and it means an awful lot to me. Fortunately things are not this bad in my immediate vicinity, but the loss is no less significant to me, since it is part of our entire planet's ecosystem which is keeping us alive. It isn't suprising that those who live closer to urban areas and are supportive of industry and technology don't seem to care much about this loss, after all, they are the ones who are directly responsible. Guess they won't realize what they have destroyed until it is completely gone and they no longer have any oxygen to breathe. How sad.

-- JSI (lover.of@gods.creation), August 27, 2000.


I agree. As to "('

He is obviously a young kid living in an urban area. I've only known Z for a few dozen years. I know that he has worked fire lines in WV, CO and MT; outside of getting a PhD. Maybe you should quite whinning and start working. Why aren't you in Montana or Idaho now. Or are you too young or too scared to do it.

-- DB (, August 27, 2000.


I forgot. You could be part of the urban population who just doesn't give a damn. If you have ever faced flames 100 ft high, moving at you at many miles per hour, you would have a different respect for these situations. It appears that your only brush with death has been with a video game. Go back to your screen. The country needs to select better stock.

-- DB (, August 27, 2000.

Mr "(' ")

You have opened up a can of worms. I must respond. Have you ever been in on the beginning of a firestorm? It is something to behold. An experience that you will never see in your little apartment; even with the web. Someone like you will never know. It is even more impressive if it is moving at you. I remember working on little fires; you know; clean-up stuff, when the whole forest in front of me exploded in flames. Every tree. A neophyte like you in an apartment wouldn't understand these things. Have you seen a wall of flames 100 miles long moving accross the plains at you. I have. It is impressive. Yet, I understand; you live in a city. Well Z and I are too old to do this stuff any more. It is your job. If you are too scared to do it, you will lose your country. It is up to

-- DB (, August 27, 2000.

DB you moron, I never said I didn't have respect for these situations. I said I didn't have respect for Z. You still didn't answer my question. Everytime he posts on this forum, he is just about to get on a plane to a big important meeting of egghead researchers, so how and when does he have time to stop over at Montana and battle forest fires? Please, don't tell me he is Superman, I already don't believe all of the bullshit he says he does.

-- (', August 27, 2000.

It is midnight. The blackbirds are getting their marshmellos ready.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), August 28, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ