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Sawtooth Fire Operations Wednesday – New Team Arrives

Sawtooth fire
Active five on the Sawtooth fire Monday. (USFS Photo/Inciweb)

(with help from Jon King)

The Sawtooth fire will shift from a Type 2 management team to a Type 1 management team in the next few days. <!–more–>According to Sawtooth fire information officer Betsy Ballard, a Type 1 management team was called for in the early days of Sawtooth blaze because of the fire’s close proximity to the urban interface. However, “at the time, a Type 1 Team was not available.”

Ravalli County Undersheriff Perry Johnson mentioned the changeover at Tuesday’s community meeting and Darby District Ranger Chuck Oliver confirmed it.

Johnson said that during the massive fires of 2000, four Type 1 teams were in the Bitterroot Valley. The change in management also coincides with the current type 2 management’s allotted 21 days of hands-0n fire patrols.

There are only 17 Type 1 management teams nationwide, two of which reside in Montana. With the west’s historic fires, all of those teams have been busy and it wasn’t until Wednesday that a team was able to train to take over. Greg Poncin will be the Incident Commander and the team will take over Thursday.

The shift in management will not only bring new eyes to fire, it will bring a lot more of them. Ballard explains the difference by noting that “the team here might have 35 overhead people and a type 1 team might have 50, which would mean they might have more operations chiefs, so they can manage more different operations of the fire.” Essentially, Ballard says that the teams are different because of the “complexity of operations they can manage.”

Meanwhile, the Sawtooth fire was active Wednesday, starting with a cold wind late in the morning, and more smoke pouring out over Hamilton. The temperature at the fire camp this morning was 25 degrees and at the top of Downing Mountain, the temperature might reach the 60s. Crews are attempting to close off a line at the mouth of Sawtooth Canyon. They are still keeping a close eye on a small fire tucked into the rocks near the top of the mountain on the north that could spot into Canyon Creek.

The Sawtooth Creek, Canyon Creek, Roaring Lion Creek and Blodgett Creek trails are closed, due to the fire activity.



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