Flat Rock Fire does little damage after swift response

| September 16, 2020 12:00 AM

By AMY QUINLIVAN

Mineral Independent

An impressive and swift response by area fire crews on the afternoon of Sept. 8 kept the Flat Rock Fire north of St. Regis from spreading and getting out of hand. By the time the pillar of smoke could be seen from vantage points along the Interstate 90 corridor multiple agencies were already in action.

The fire started burning in heavy logging slash in the Superior Ranger District 10 miles north of St. Regis up the Twelve-mile drainage. Crews aggressively worked throughout the night on Tuesday to establish containment lines and keep the Flat Rock fire from growing.

Kate Jerman is the Public Affairs Officer for the Lolo National Forest. She stated, “Aerial resources were essential in suppression efforts [Tuesday] to slow or 'check' fire spread to give ground firefighters the opportunity to begin to build containment line around the perimeter.”

Throughout the evening of Sept. 8, St. Regis residents had a front row seat to an array of aircrafts helping to aid in fighting the fire. Jerman explained, “There were 2-3 Large Air tankers (LATs), 2-3 Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs), one Type 1 helicopter (a Chinook), a Type 3 helicopter (A-Star), and an aerial supervision platform.” Fire retardant was dropped Tuesday evening along both flanks and at the head of the fire.

By Wednesday aerial resources were no longer needed once multiple teams of firefighters arrived on the scene including the Lolo Hotshot Crew. Fire line and hose lay surrounding the perimeter of the western portion of the fire was completed on Wednesday. Crews then managed to construct control lines around the eastern side of the fire and by the evening of Sept. 9, the fire was at 50 percent containment.

“Due to more accurate mapping, the fire is now estimated to be about eight acres in size. The fire is burning on the east and west side of Forest Road 443,” described Jerman on Wednesday. The mild weather during the middle of last week made for favorable conditions as the firefighters continued to make progress on suppressing the Flat Rock Fire.

No structures were threatened and at this time the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

By Friday, Sept. 11, the Flat Rock Fire was listed at 100 percent containment. One crew from the Superior Ranger District and a water tender from the St. Regis Volunteer Fire Department were assigned to the fire. They monitored the fire over the weekend to patrol and make progress toward controlled status.