Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Slash-pile fire battled by crews

by Alan Lewis Gerstenecker
| August 21, 2012 3:27 PM

U.S. Forest Service and Libby Volunteer Fire Department crews on Sunday responded to a slash-pile fire just off Snowshoe Road, limiting the blaze before it spread extensively to the surrounding timber.

According to LVFD Assistant Chief Steve Lauer, between 12 and 15 firefighters from both agencies responded to the blaze shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday.

Lauer believes the fire was intentionally set in the area he said was logged about two years ago.

“The Forest Service crews got to it just as it was starting to take to the timber,” Lauer said. “Yes, we believe it was intentionally set.”

Lauer said the location of the fire is one-eighth mile south on Snowshoe Road of its intersection with Shaugnessy Road, on the east side. Lauer said the fire was on private land owned by the Enders family.

In all, two USFS tenders with pumps, two engines from LVFD and an excavator were used to extinguish the blaze, which Lauer estimated to be 20-feet by 30-feet.

“It was lucky. (Firefighters) got to it just as it was getting to the big timber,” Lauer said.

Lauer said because of the suspicious nature of the fire, that persons who may have seen anyone in the area around 3 p.m. Sunday to call the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department.

In another fire situation, KNF crews, with the assistance of other firefighters, were battling the Little Tom Fire — up by Little Tom Mountain — on Friday.

The cause of the blaze, which was estimated to cover 25 acres at the time, is unknown.

Fire crews, in addition to those from the Kootenai, include one from the Blackfeet, two Forest Service water tenders, one bulldozer and engine, and a miscellaneous overhead crew with helicopters as needed.

On Friday, according to Willie Sykes, the KNF public affairs specialist, another crew joined the effort.

Providing fuel for the fire, which is at 5,381 feet elevation, is mixed conifer with subalpine fir, bear grass and huckleberry. 

The report provided by Sykes indicated progress had been made in a hand line constructed on both the western and eastern flanks. A bulldozer lined the fire’s northern edge with an indirect line to the east.

Sykes’ report indicated hoses had been laid mostly around the burn with water handling ongoing.  Helicopters continue bucket work to try to keep torching and spotting to a minimum, Sykes said.

The report indicated progress is going well, with the main concern being continual torching of subalpine fir and spots outside of the main fire.  

Any spread potential would be to the east, the report said.

Fire Commander Brent Cooper reported he is confident firefighters will be able to hold the fire in its current location unless high winds impact the fire area.

Sykes thanked all the firefighters who are “doing a great job up there and to all of the others who are helping support the incident.”