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Trail Creek, Alder Creek, & Sand Lake Fire Update 09/16/2021

TRAIL CREEK FIRE: Size 51,834 Acres 29% Containment

Crews made good progress yesterday, despite the wind conditions. The handline, from Forest Service #079 north along the ridge between Anderson Creek and Smithy Creek to Anderson Mountain, made signification progress and containment lines along the south, east, and northern sides of the fire held strong during the wind event. Although weather conditions are expected to remain in critical fire level for the next few days, crews will continue to look for opportunities to go direct.

Structure protection remains in place, improving containment lines, mopping up hot spots and monitoring fire behavior, although crews reported little activity near the containment line. Crews will continue to monitor and mop up hot spots throughout the night as well.

While Hwy 43 remains closed, crews continue to remove hazard trees along Highway 43 for the next few days.

ALDER CREEK FIRE: Size 34,133 Acres 32% Containment

Firefighters caught a break yesterday, with winds pushing the fire back onto itself, slowing forward progress and reducing fire behavior. Crews used this opportunity to continue working from Sawlog Road to Culvert Loop Road creating containment lines and going direct in some areas.

Crews reported very few smokes on the southern half of the fire yesterday, despite the windy conditions. Crews will continue to monitor and patrol the corridor and scenic bi-way looking for areas of concern.

The structure protection remains in place near Alder Creek, monitoring and evaluating structures. Crews will remain in the area throughout the evening, monitoring and mopping up any hot spots.

SAND LAKE FIRE: Size 228 Acres 0% Containment

The fire is established but growth has been minimal, moving slowly along the side of the mountain. Crews will continue to monitor the fire and evaluate values at risk.


The public can expect to see smoke coming from interior pockets in the fire area for the next few days. This is normal and can be expected until considerable moisture covers the area. Firefighters were not able to directly attack all areas of the fire. The areas where it was just too steep or too dangerous for firefighters to work in. The fireteam continues to develop the suppression repair plan. This plan will describe areas where repair work will take place and how soon hose lays can be pulled out.


Strong, gusty winds are expected again over the next few days. Weather conditions are expected to remain critical through the weekend, with a possibility of a cool down Sunday.


The Pioneer Scenic Byway is open to through traffic. Watch for increased traffic, school has started in the local communities and hunting season is ongoing. Crews will be removing hazard trees along Highway 43 for the next few days. Expect firefighters and equipment near roadways. Montana Department of Transportation has scheduled Highway 43 to replace bridges over Trail Creek for September 13th through 16th. The closure will last 24 hours a day (Monday-Thursday). The road is expected to reopen on Friday morning (September 17th).


Portions of the Continental Divide Trail remain closed. The Big Hole National Battlefield is closed until further notice. May Creek Campground and Steel Creek Campground are closed.

Closure orders remain in effect on the Salmon-Challis National Forests, the Beaverhead-

Deerlodge National Forest, and the Bureau of Land Management. View the updated closure orders on the respective agency websites and the fires' Inciweb pages.

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