Posted: Sep 11, 2012 5:26 PM by KPAX news
Updated: Sep 11, 2012 5:31 PM
The Sawtooth Fire near Hamilton now stands close to 4 thousand acres with fire officials reporting the blaze is now about three to four miles from downtown Hamilton.
But the bright spot in this fast moving fire.... no structures were lost overnight and the firelines held.
The fierce westerly winds are gone, it's about 10-degrees cooler... even the smoke has lifted somewhat.But hundreds of people are still out of their homes, and there's a lot more work to do for the fire crews...
A fairly persistent easterly wind has been pushing the fire and smoke back toward the Bitterroot Front all day, giving us a better look at how the Sawtooth Fire jumped across drainages during the high winds for a couple of days.It also allowed us to see the additional plume of dark smoke on the southern edge of the blaze, where fire crews set a backburn this morning in an attempt to keep the fire from spreading further to the south on Sawtooth Creek. But the real sense of how tough this fire is comes from being on the firelines themselves. I caught up with the Prineville Hotshot Crew as they scaled up a very steep and very rocky slope on Grubstake Road, helping to re-enforce the perimeter of the fire, which is still only 5% contained. And everywhere you can see evidence of the firelines doing their job, with brush, grass and downed limbs burning inside the line, but no evidence of fire outside. The latest estimate is that the fire is still around 4-thousand acres. The cooler conditions and higher humidities are exactly what was needed. But there's already concern about a return to warmer, windy weather later this week. A Type 1 team, the most skilled available, has been ordered up and should arrive soon. That means more resources, and plans are underway to move the fire camp to the Ravalli County fairgrounds to allow for more room. Meanwhile, no structures have been lost. And people who had to evacuate left behind messages of thanks... and hope... that their properties can be kept safe.