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Seepay Fire gives warning of fire season potential

By Adriana Fehrs

The Seepay Fire, located 20 miles west of Dixon, has grown to over 1,000 acres. Diane Hutton’s Wildland Fire Management Team assumed command of the Seepay Fire at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12. Over 200 personnel are on site to aid in the fire containment efforts. (courtesy photo) The Seepay Fire, located 20 miles west of Dixon, has grown to over 1,000 acres. Diane Hutton’s Wildland Fire Management Team assumed command of the Seepay Fire at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12. Over 200 personnel are on site to aid in the fire containment efforts. (courtesy photo)

PERMA — The Seepay Fire is continuing to grow and burn. Initially, the remote fire did not pose a threat to residents but now, the situation has changed and fire crews have been called out to get the fire under control.

The lightening caused fire, located 20 miles west of Dixon, has grown to a staggering 1,050 acres. Four crews have been called out to construct fire lines and extinguish spot fires.

“At beginning it was a control and confine fire,” says Devlin LaFrombois, CSKT Fire Control Prevention Specialist Assistant. Initially, CSKT determined to let the fire burn and extinguish itself. After a change in weather – gusty winds and heat, produced a larger and more dangerous fire, “and we didn’t want it to become a huge fire.” A course of action was taking to contain the fire.

Salish Elder Pat Pierre, stopped in to speak with fire crews battling the Seepay Fire, 20 miles west of Dixon. The Perma area has been a stomping ground for Pierre since his childhood. He related his experiences growing up in the Perma area and contrasting the fire behavior of today with the less intense and less destructive fires of his childhood. (courtesy photo) Salish Elder Pat Pierre, stopped in to speak with fire crews battling the Seepay Fire, 20 miles west of Dixon. The Perma area has been a stomping ground for Pierre since his childhood. He related his experiences growing up in the Perma area and contrasting the fire behavior of today with the less intense and less destructive fires of his childhood. (courtesy photo)

Diane Hutton’s Wildland Fire Management Team assumed command of the Seepay Fire at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12. Over 200 personnel are on site to aid in the fire containment efforts.

CSKT also sought help from four helicopters crews. The crews were briefed on how to protect westslope cutthroat trout that occupy the Seepay watershed during their water dropping operations. Ira Matt, CSKT Tribal Resource Advisor, informed fire personnel about the numerous cultural and religious sites that occur throughout the Flathead River Valley and in the fire area and methods to mitigate disturbance during fire suppression activities.

Four helicopter crew, four fire crews and over 200 personnel are on site at the Seepay fire. The recent weather changes have aided in the growth of the fire. Now, concerns for residents and property have become an issue. (courtesy photo) Four helicopter crew, four fire crews and over 200 personnel are on site at the Seepay fire. The recent weather changes have aided in the growth of the fire. Now, concerns for residents and property have become an issue. (courtesy photo)

The intensity and size of the fire hasn’t just drawn in fire crews, but has also caught some political attention. Congressman Steve Daines flew over the fire and then received a briefing on fire strategy, tactics and long-term planning at the fire camp on Monday, August 18.

Objectives for personnel and fire crews on site remain to be primarily focused on the safety and protection of firefighters and the public safety. Goals are to to contain the fire within the Seepay-Magpie Roadless Area.

Fire crews have managed to keep safety at the forefront. Only one injury has been sustain from fire activity. One firefighter slipped on a rock Tuesday, August 12, and suffered a hyperextended knee; the prognosis is for a full recovery.

“Currently, the fire under control. We are not extinguishing the fire, but making efforts to keep the fire contained within our fire lines,” says LaFrombois.

The Seepay Fire started small, like all fires, but warm conditions and windy weather have helped the fire grow. (courtesy photo) The Seepay Fire started small, like all fires, but warm conditions and windy weather have helped the fire grow. (courtesy photo)

The following roads are closed due to fire activity: Seepay Creek Road from Hwy 200 up is closed. Revais, Magpie, and Vanderberg creek roads are closed from the top over into Seepay. The public can still drive up to top of Revais, Magpie, and Vanderberg. Roads at the top are closed and barricaded.

CSKT Division of Fire informs residents of the Flathead Indian Reservation that CSKT will remove the Stage 1 Fire Restrictions at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, August 23.

For more information on the Seepay Fire, or fire restrictions, contact Bob MacGregor or Arlee Staley, Public Information Officers, at (406) 741-5902.

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