BREAKING NEWS: Pony Fire UPDATE: June 29, 10 a.m.

UPDATE: June 29, 10 a.m. – Firefighting crews battling the Pony Fire have reached a five percent containment level on the blaze as they continue protection measures in the town of Mammoth and the South Boulder area.

Friday morning’s incident fact sheet as listed on the information website www.inciweb.org lists the current size of the Pony Fire at 4,650 acres, and resources include five 20-person crews, sixteen engines, two dozers and four helicopters with a total of 269 personnel.

Crews spent Thursday executing structure protection operations including hose lays and fuel abatement around Mammoth, as well as constructing fireline around the northern and eastern flanks of the blazing using support from heavy machinery. Updated information on www.inciweb.org Friday morning stated crews hope to complete the fireline and burnout operations around the northern flank today.

The fire continues to burn actively among native grasses and timber fuels in steep, inaccessible terrain that makes containment effort extremely difficult.

For further updates on the Pony Fire check back at www.madisoniannews.com or www.inciweb.org.

UPDATE: June 28, 4 p.m. – Fire crews continue to battle the Pony Fire Thursday afternoon after residents of Mammoth were briefly allowed access to their homes on Wednesday to collect their belongings.

As of Thursday morning the fire was estimated to be approximately 4700 acres in size, after aerial support crews were able to get a better look at the fire from the sky on Wednesday, said Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest public information officer Arlee Staley. Staley added that things were “looking good” after high winds from Monday and Tuesday died down.

According to the incident information website www.inciweb.org the Pony Fire still has zero percent containment, and the Forest Service has ordered road closures and trail restrictions to restrict public access to the area.

Staley said the plan of attack for Thursday called for concentrated structure protection efforts in the South Boulder and Mammoth areas, where crews will continue using hoses to wet down lawns and houses. Fire crews will also be working to build firelines along the northern and eastern sections of the blaze, she said, as well as the southwestern flank to the north of Mammoth.

Current resources for the fire include five 20-man teams, ten engines, three dozers and four helicopters between 231 personnel.

For further updates on the Pony Fire check back at www.madisoniannews.com or www.inciweb.org.

UPDATE: June 27, 3 p.m. – The wildfire burning 10 miles north of Pony has grown to approximately 6400 acres as it continues to burn through the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in the Tobacco Root Mounts.

Flight crews with the Type II Incident Command Team that assumed command of the fire yesterday were grounded Monday and Tuesday due to high winds that gusted up to 40 mph.

At a public information briefing Tuesday night in Pony operations chief Roger Staats said the day was mostly spent scouting the perimeter of the fire. Staats hoped that the more favorable weather conditions forecast for Wednesday and Thursday would allow fire crews on the ground and in the air to continue their attack on the blaze.

According to the incident information website www.inciweb.org current resources include 256 personnel between six 20-man crews, thirteen engines, two dozers and four helicopters.

Ted Pettis, fire information officer for the incident command team, said that the slight change in weather conditions today should favor the crews attacking the fire.

“I think we’re going to be up to about 20 percent for minimum relative humidity,” Pettis said. “Temperatures are going to be down, winds are going to be down, so those are plusses that will help us get a good handle on it.”

For further updates on the Pony Fire check back at www.madisoniannews.com or www.inciweb.org.

The Pony Fire burns in the Tobacco Root Mountains near Pony. Photo by Janie Wasmann

 

UPDATE: June 26, 9 p.m. –

PONY – A wildfire in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest that ignited Sunday afternoon near Pony continues to burn north through the Tobacco Root Mountains after forcing the mandatory evacuations of Mammoth and the South Boulder area on Monday.

On Tuesday, the fire burned out of control as crews were unable to attack from the ground or air. Wind gusts up to 40 mph prevented aerial support for the blaze, and hot air temperatures combined with low humidity made conditions too dangerous to fight from the ground, said Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest public information officer Arlee Staley.

“Right now they are watching it, monitoring it and waiting for it to die down so they can actually get some boots on the ground and do something with it,” Staley said. “We do not have anybody actually doing direct attack on that fire because of the dangerous conditions.”

The Pony Fire burned toward the South Boulder River and the tiny community of Mammoth Monday. Photo by Ben Coulter

The source of the blaze is still under investigation, and the fire was estimated to be approximately 3,000 acres on Tuesday morning. Staley said that flight crews have been unable to make more accurate maps of its size because of the windy conditions. Main fuel sources for the fire include timber, sage and native grasses, and the steep, rugged terrain of the area has made it difficult for crews to fight this fire.

Firefighters from the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Natural Resource Conservation and Madison County Volunteer Fire Departments initially responded to the fire. On Monday afternoon a Type II National Incident Command team from north Idaho led by Rick Kusicko arrived in Whitehall in preparation to take command on Tuesday. Staley confirmed from the incident’s information website www.inciweb.org that there are over 240 personnel currently on the fire between eight crews, three helicopters, two fire engines and one water tender.

As of Tuesday the fire had destroyed one cabin and one other structure, with several other structures being threatened. Staley said the evacuation of Mammoth and the South Boulder area to the University of Indiana Field Station concerns between 10 and 15 residences.

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning forecast in effect until 9 p.m. Tuesday night, warning local firefighters and land management agencies that weather conditions are ideal for wild land fire ignition and rapid propagation. Their forecast calls for an overnight low of 43 degrees in Pony on Tuesday night with 20 to 30 mph winds dying down before midnight. Wednesday’s forecast calls for a high of 72 degrees with southwest winds from 6 to 11 mph and an overnight low of 41 degrees, while Thursday should bring a high near 86 with southwest winds between 7 and 10 mph with an overnight low of 48.

For updated information on the Pony Fire check back here or inciweb.

UPDATE: June 26, 4:15 p.m. – Turns out residents of Pony have been able to stay put and the rumors of evacuations in the town were inaccurate, Pony Fire officials confirmed Tuesday. However, people along the South Boulder River and in the small community of Mammoth are under evacuation orders as the Pony Fire continues to burn north in the Tobacco Root Mountains.

The blaze that began Sunday afternoon has consumed two structures so far, and is estimated to be about 3,000 acres in size. Fire crews have been unable to calculate the actual size of the fire because aerial support has been grounded all day by southwest to westerly winds gusting up to 40 mph.

More than 240 personnel are currently on the fire between eight crews, three helicopters, two fire engines and one water tender. A Type II National Incident Command team from north Idaho took over command of the fire on Tuesday morning.

Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest public information officer Arlee Staley said the evacuations of Mammoth and the South Boulder area to the University of Indiana Field Station concern between 10 and 15 residences. Staley dispelled rumors that circulated on Monday evening that the town of Pony was also evacuated.

“Right now they are watching it, monitoring it and waiting for it to die down so they can actually get some boots on the ground and do something with it,” Staley said. “We do not have anybody actually doing direct attack on that fire because of the dangerous conditions.”

The National Weather Service forecasts and overnight low of 43 degrees in Pony on Tuesday night with 20 to 30 mph winds dying down before midnight. Wednesday’s forecast calls for a high of 72 degrees with southwest winds from 6 to 11 mph.

A public information meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. tonight in Pony at the senior center. For more updates on the Pony Fire visit www.madisoniannews.com or www.inciweb.org.

 

 

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