HELENA – The Lump Gulch Fire south of the Capital City is currently burning at 1,500 acres and is 15% contained. All evacuation orders have been lifted, but several pre-evacuation orders are still in effect.
As fire crews work to build a containment line all the way around the fire, officials say the weather has been helping make that job a bit easier.
With it being June, fire officials say, this is a good learning experience to see where they are with their fuels on the ground.
"We've learned that our larger woody materials are still fairly dry, even though the grass is green," says Shane Martin, Incident Commander for the Lump Gulch Fire. "That's what the fire is mostly carried in, is needle littler and down logs."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Right now, fire behavior and spread is minimal with some hotspots, but snags and dead trees still continue to pose an extreme safety threat to firefighters.
"We're looking where we can put folks and where they can safely work and not have trees falling on them,” says Martin. “A lot of that is determining if it's worth wild to have folks with chainsaws going first to cut out the area. We are using heavy equipment where we can to mitigate that issue."
The pandemic is also posing a threat to firefighters as they are following social distancing guidelines, while also working together to contain the fire.
"It's something that we're having to take into account in all our actions, and making sure that we're following those guidelines that the CDC and the local health department have put out to make sure that we're not contributing to any sort of spread of the disease," says Martin.
Officials would still like to remind the public to stay clear of the area, because it can impact the firefighter's ability to safely access the fire.
For information on the Lump Gulch Fire you can click here.