Weekend rains hold Beeskove fire in check at 429 acres; windstorm hits command post

Heavy rains and high winds hit the Beeskove fire incident command post on Sunday afternoon. (inciweb.gov)

Rain and cool weather over the weekend helped firefighters in their efforts to contain the Beeskove fire north of Missoula.

As of Monday morning, the Lolo National Forest reported that the fire burning in the Rattlesnake Creek drainage grew little, if at all, over the past few days, still holding at an estimated 429 acres.

That helped firefighters build more indirect lines around the fire, which is now 20 percent contained. That was a big improvement over last week when the fire had no containment.

Firefighters had to withdraw from the area on Saturday and Sunday evenings due to safety concerns over severe thunderstorms that passed through the area. But even with the recent moisture, the fire is holding on and will continue to burn into the warming and drying trend forecasted for this week.

As they did over the weekend, fire team managers will send an Unmanned Aircraft System drone, a new piece of firefighting technology, over the area today to pinpoint hot spots along the fire perimeter. With that knowledge, they can plan their next moves.

Meanwhile, heavy equipment will continue to clear fire lines in the Gold Creek area to the northeast.

Firefighters are also inspecting houses and other structures in the Grant Creek area to see which have adequate defensible space. So far, 412 structures have been assessed.

The following areas remain closed to the public:

– Sheep Mountain trailhead

– Johnson Gulch on Woody Mountain

– Mineral Peak Lookout

– Upper Twin Creek/Sheep Mountain Spur trail

– All Nature Conservancy lands in the area

The 17-acre Wagon Mountain Fire west of Florence is now 100-percent contained.