The Forest received a smoke report in the Bowles Creek drainage area, following a lightning storm on the evening of July 20, 2023. Ground resources and a helicopter flight confirmed the location. Additional smoke reports, received by the Bitterroot Dispatch Center, were checked and confirmed by ground resources.
Ground resources and an early morning helicopter flight on July 21st estimated the Bowles Fire to be approximately 50 acres and the Daly Creek fire on the Bitterroot side of the divide to be approximately 1-2 acres. Initial attack resources lined and “plumbed” (with water and hoselays) the Daly Fire. Fire operations officials pulled those individuals off the active fireline for safety reasons. Due to this active fire behavior and resulting growth, these fires have merged and will be referred to as the Bowles Creek Fire. Active fire behavior due to receptive fuels and hot and dry weather conditions resulted in extensive fire growth throughout the day.
The fire is located approximately three miles southwest of Skalkaho Pass in the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area (WSA) in steep terrain.
Fuel moisture in 100 and 10 hour fuels in low. This fuel component is the primary carrier of the fire. 1000 hour fuels have dried and have become available as fuels.
Live conifer fuels are just beginning to cure. Dead canopy component varies from 20% to 70%. Fuel models are especially variable across the landscape.
Northern Rockies Team #8, under the leadership of Incident Commander Brad Bergman, assumed command of the fire Sunday, July 23rd.
Fire Danger has been elevated to VERY HIGH on both forests (Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF and Bitterroot NF).
Dead fuel moistures have become low enough for a substantial increase in surface fire activity. Fire continues to back downslope and flank side slope in heavy timber with moderate spread rates producing group tree torching and short crown runs at times.
Dry weather is drawing down live fuel moistures.
48 hours: Thunderstorms expected to arrive Friday with the potential for gusty outflow winds and lightning.
12 hours: Fire activity expected to increase throughout the day as warm temps and low RH, along with northerly winds a concern. Single tree torching with spot fire development is likely.
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