Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Forest manages Lawrence Mtn. fire

by Western News
| September 8, 2009 12:00 AM

Lightning sparked various fires across Kootenai National Forest last week, including a blaze on Lawrence Mountain that is now under a wildfire management plan.

Forest Service personnel discovered the fire on Lawrence Mountain on the afternoon of Sept. 2 and attacked with smokejumpers, single-engine air tankers and a heavy helicopter. By Thursday morning, however, the fire had grown to 10 acres despite the initial efforts.

The situation evolved into concern for firefighter safety with high winds in the forecast, the remote location of the fire and other risk factors, Forest Service officials said. As a result, firefighters left the scene and officials developed a long-term wildfire management plan.

The planning effort included future resource needs in the area as well as fire suppression tactics.

Lawrence Mountain is located on the west side of Lake Koocanusa between Libby and Rexford.

In the same vicinity, the Parsnip fire started about two miles northeast of the Lawrence Mountain fire and is also included in the management plan. Officials said the current strategy to confine the two fires was to use existing natural barriers and past forest management activities, including fuel reduction treatments, to limit fire spread.

High winds did develop on Thursday as predicted with mid-slope weather stations recording wind speeds greater than 15 mph with gusts to 39 mph. The winds began around noon and lasted until nearly midnight before diminishing.

By 6 p.m. Thursday, the Lawrence Mountain fire was estimated to be about 30 acres and was active on all flanks. Personnel have been conducting daily assessments of the fire to determine if fire behavior warrants additional suppression actions.

For public safety, Lawrence Mountain Trail No. 11 from its junction with Forest Road No. 4843 to the junction of trail No. 64, and trail No. 422 from Lost Soul trailhead to Lawrence Mountain, will be temporarily closed to the public until further notice.

Lawrence Mountain Road No. 4874 is currently open, but may be subject to temporary closures depending on fire activity or increased fire traffic.

As of late last week, Kootenai National Forest had 157 fires that had burned 181 acres.