GREAT FALLS — The American Fork Fire has burned an estimated 8,334 acres as of Wednesday morning (July 21), an increase of more than 3,000 acres since Tuesday morning; there is no containment yet on the fire.
The fire is burning about 24 miles southwest of Harlowton in the White Sulphur Springs Ranger District of the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest. There have been no reported injuries or damaged structures. The lightning-sparked fire was reported on July 17th.
There are 85 personnel assigned to the fire, along with numerous engines and dozers, with more on order. A Type II team will be in-briefed on Wednesday evening and take over the fire operations on Friday morning.
On Tuesday, crews continued burnout operations on the eastern edge along the private land to tie fire into the 2017 Blacktail Fire scar. Crews were also able to mitigate new spot fires with a helicopter on the northwest corner and southern perimeter of the fire. Crews on Wednesday will start line construction on southeast corner of the fire moving west to start securing the south end of the fire and will continue to utilize aerial resources to address spot fires on the west, south and east sides of the fire.
Crews and engines continue to hold the eastern perimeter to keep the fire off private land. Structures in Shields Valley and on the south end of the fire continue to be assessed.
The American Fork Fire (Inciweb) continues to exhibit crown runs and spotting. Fire has potential to move north, west and south with continuous heavy fuels.
Due to hazardous fire conditions in the American Fork Fire area, an area closure order is in effect. Trail closures on the Custer Gallatin National Forest include: Turkey Creek Forest Service Road #6634, the entire Shields Loop, Sunlight Trailhead, Sweet Grass Drainage, and Lodgepole Creek Trail #266. Closures on the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest include: the Lebo Trail #640 and Big Elk Trailhead (#640).
The Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest and the Custer Gallatin National Forest are currently under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, including the use of charcoal grills. The Custer Gallatin National Forest has implemented additional restrictions, primarily restricting campfires in all locations. Use of pressurized fuel devices with an on/off switch are acceptable.