Weekends rains, combined with the efforts of the 352 people working to suppress the Beeskove fire, have the blaze at 3% containment as of Sunday morning.
According to a statement from the U.S. Forest Service, the fire remains at 429 acres and will continue to burn into next week despite recent moisture. To confirm the fire’s containment, fire managers used an Unmanned Aircraft System to take measurements around the Beeskove fire’s perimeter.
“The UAS system is an extremely useful tool for fire managers in assessing fire activity; it is safer and less expensive than traditional aerial operations, reduces firefighter exposure in rugged terrain, and allows for rapid assessment of fire conditions,” the statement said.
The fire started 5 miles northeast of the main Rattlesnake Trailhead on July 23, and has crept along the steep, mountainous terrain on the south side of Rattlesnake Creek. Driven by winds and the rollout of debris, it spread mostly to the south and east toward fuel sources.
The location of the fire has made it inaccessible for crews to attack directly, so firefighters have spent the weeks using heavy equipment to construct and fortify fuel breaks to the east, north and south. Along with conducting reconnaissance on the fire, aerial missions have also made regular bucket drops. A Type 2 Incident Command Team currently manages the fire.
Although the fire does not threaten any structures at this time, the Forest Service statement said firefighters will document the “defensibility of homes and other structures in the Rattlesnake and Marshall Mountain areas,” with structure assessments in Grant Creek. High winds, rain and hail led to fire personnel temporarily moving to Mount Jumbo High School due to safety concerns.
Fires sheltered from the rain are expected to burn through the week, with most season-ending storms typically occurring in September. According to the National Weather Service, storm systems will continue through the end of the weekend, with more showers Sunday night and winds gusts of up to 25 mph. Starting Monday, however, the weather is predicted to return to high temperatures and low humidity.
In the past week, firefighters brought the 17-acre Wagon Mountain fire in Lolo National Forest to 100% containment, while the Snow Creek fire in Flathead National Forest has burned 1,815 Acres and is not yet contained.
In order to ensure the safety of visitors to the Rattlesnake Recreation Area and minimize interference with firefighting personnel, several closures remain in place. Those include the entire Woody Mountain-Johnson Gulch area, the Sheep Mountain Trailhead and Mineral Peak Lookout.
For more information on the Beeskove fire, visit visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6458/.