Seepay Fire Burns 1,000+ Acres Near Dixon - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Seepay Fire Burns 1,000+ Acres Near Dixon

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DIXON -

A multi-agency team works to contain the 1,000-plus acre Seepay Fire west of Dixon.

For weeks the Seepay Fire spread slowly but weather in the last few days has fanned the flames quickly making this the second largest fire in Montana this season.

The Seepay Fire has closed trails but is not threatening any structures.

Seepay Creek Road from Highway 200 up is closed.

Revais, Magpie and Vanderberg roads are closed from the top over into Seepay.

While the public can still drive portions of these roads, they are barricaded near the top.

From the floor of the Flathead River Valley, all you can see of the Seepay Fire is smoke and occasional helicopters flying in and out.

Strong winds over the last couple of days caused the fire to gain hundreds of acres in size and outgrow Confederated Salish Kootenai tribal resources.

The tribes called in local, state and federal management teams to get an upper hand on the fire.

"It's a high remote spot, very difficult to put firefighters in there. Very dangerous, lots of fuel loadings, they call it a 'roadless area' up there. And so, there's about 40 tons to acre fuel which is a lot," says Bob MacGregor, Public Information Officer for the Northern Rockies Management Team.

The Type II management team consists of about 180 ground and air crews whose greatest obstacles in the fire are terrain and weather.

"When the winds blew ahead of the storms, the fire took off and made a fairly substantial run, then all of a sudden it started raining," MacGregor said.

"We were here in camp holding on to tents before everything blew away. There were quite a few tents, personal tents blew over, we lost a logistics yurt, so it was quite the afternoon."

Crews say the fire is threatening tribal timber stands and huckleberry patches, but is also surrounded by burn scars from years past, which should help the fire from spreading too far.

"Currently on the west flank is where we have our contingency lines established, where we're doing more of our direct control actions to protect the Confederated Salish Kootenai timber grounds to the west flank," Operations Chief Joe Sampson said.

"That's our main objective right now as far as values at risk, is to protect their timber lands."

The Seepay Fire is about 60 miles as the crow flies from the Thompson River Complex, the state's largest fire burning at about 1,600 acres.

These are the two largest fires in the state, a sign of extra dry conditions the majority of the state has avoided.

Two teams of hot shots, the Mesa Hot Shots and the Helena Hot Shots, have been assigned to the fire.

Sampson says Montana's mild fire season has allowed us to lend many of our resources to Idaho, Washington and Oregon where much bigger fires are burning.




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