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Redfish Lake Area Closed by Growing Wildfire
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The picture shows the smoke Thursday evening. COURTESY: Sawtooth National Forest
   
Friday, July 12, 2024
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Forest Service officials said Friday afternoon that they plan to close the Redfish Lake recreational area in response to the Bench Lake Fire, which started during the lunch hour Thursday.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area Ranger Kirk Flannigan said the emergency closure includes Redfish Lake Lodge, cabins and store, the visitor center, campgrounds and roads and trails in the area. A small buffer area around the complex will also be closed.

“With the concentration of fuels in the Sawtooth Wilderness, the unusual weather pattern we’re experiencing right now and the proximity of the fire to a very popular recreation destination, we believe it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Flannigan.

 
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The Redfish Lake Webcam shows the smoke in the upper righthand corner Friday afternoon.
 

The fire was reported about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11, in the vicinity of the three Bench Lakes, a popular day hiking and backpacking area about one mile west of Redfish Lake. It had burned about 40 acres by Thursday night and had grown to 66 acres by midday Friday.

The cause remains undetermined.

A helicopter involved in dropping buckets of water on the fire reportedly crashed about 6 p.m. Thursday during the initial attack on the fire. Witnesses reported seeing the pilot sitting and speaking afterwards. More information is pending from the Forest Service.

A wildland firefighter pilot lost his life when his plane crashed on Wednesday while dumping water on the Horse Gulch Fire near Hauser Lake on the Missouri River near Helena, Mont.

The Sawtooth National Forest has ordered a Complex incident Management Team to help manage the Bench Lake Fire. The incoming team will assume command of the fire from the local Type 3 team fighting the fire at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Incident Commander Chris Belliston is currently managing one engine crew, one Type 3 helicopter, one air attack aircraft, two water scooper aircraft and a lead plane. A type 2 helicopter with helicopter rappelers is enroute to the fire.

Complex Incident Management Teams are brought in for wildland fires that exceed the firefighting resources available on the Forest, said Jessica Schick, public affairs officer for the Sawtooth National Forest. The team uses the Incident Command System and is staffed with supervisory positions that can order resources to manage the fire and provide oversight for several operational periods.

A Red Flag fire weather warning for the Sawtooth National Forest went into effect at 2 p.m. Friday and will last through 9 p.m. this evening. The temperature in the Stanley area was 89 degrees at 2 p.m. with low relative humidity and winds of 9 miles per hour.

The hot weather continues with a forecast of 89 degrees on Saturday before it cools to 85 degrees on Sunday.

~  Today's Topics ~


Redfish Lake Area Closed by Growing Wildfire

Redfish Lake Campground Evacuated Due to Fire

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