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Wildfire prompts officials to close Lava Lake Trail

By Paige Sedgewick, Reporter, psedgewick@kcfw.com
Published On: Aug 03 2014 04:10:49 PM MDT
Updated On: Aug 03 2014 08:39:57 PM MDT
Lava Lake Fire
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

The following is a press release from Custer Gallatin National Forests:

 Bozeman, MT – The lightning caused Lava Lake Fire is burning about one mile north of Lava Lake in the Gallatin Canyon between Bozeman and Big Sky, Montana.  The one acre fire is burning in heavy, continuous fuels in a rock outcropping in severely steep and rugged terrain.  Given the terrain and thick vegetation firefighters are not able to safely hike cross country to the fire.  A helicopter is in route from Billings to begin dropping water on the fire to cool it down.  A larger helicopter that firefighters can repel out of has been ordered and is expected to begin work tomorrow.  Firefighter safety given the lack of openings in the vegetation and the steep, rugged terrain that is inaccessible in some areas is the most important priority for managing this fire.  The popular Lava Lake Trail (Forest Service Trail #77) and the trail from Table Mountain that drops down to Lava Lake (Forest Service Trail #445) will close to public use Monday, August 4 at 12:00 p.m.  When the larger helicopter begins working it needs more area to pick up water from Lava Lake and kicks up more debris than the smaller aircraft.  This creates a public safety risk and is the reason the Forest is closing the trails.     

People hiking these trails today can expect to see the helicopter using Lava Lake as a water source to cool the fire down.  Please avoid the area the helicopter is working in and take precautions to protect yourself. Fire Name: Lava Lake Fire  Date Detected:  August 2, 2014       

Cause:  Lightning     

Location:  In the Spanish Peaks portion of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, about one mile north of Lava Lake, between Bozeman and Big Sky, Montana, west of Highway 191 near Cascade Creek. Current Size: 1 acre with tree torching and spotting   Resources Assigned:  One helicopter   Current Status:  Helicopter work to cool the fire down will begin today.  A larger helicopter that can drop more water and that firefighters can repel out of is in route and should begin work tomorrow.  Managers intend to repel four firefighters into the fire tomorrow if they can do so safely. Closures:  Lava Lake Trail (Trail #77) and the trail from Table Mountain that drops down to Lava Lake Trail (Trail #445) will close to public access Monday, August 4, 2014 at 12:00 p.m. (noon).

Remarks:  The fire is burning in the Lee Metcalf – Spanish Peaks designated wilderness area.  While fire managers will try to utilize minimum impact suppression actions to preserve the area’s wilderness character, firefighters intend to safely and aggressively suppress the fire given the thick vegetation and lack of natural fuel breaks between the fire and Highway 191.