Divide Complex fire grows, meeting set for tonight in Neihart

The Divide Complex fires, which include Balsinger Fire and Ellis Fire, is now more than 3,000 acres, according to an update from the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. 

A public meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Neihart Community Center gymnasium for those impacted by the fire.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Ellis Fire is now about 2,500 acres and the Balsinger Fire is 900 to 1,500 acres.

CCSO evacuating Belt Park as fire intensifies

For the Balsinger Fire, which caused the evacuation orders for Belt Park, between Monarch and Neihart on July 11, there are eight Type 6 engines, one Type 2IA Module and a water tender with 33 personnel, according to the Forest Service. The fire had calmed on Sunday until 30 mile per hour winds in the late afternoon forced personnel to evacuate the area.

At that point, there were spot fires a half to one mile ahead of the main fire’s perimeter and the fire moved northeast, then south and the incident commander to issue to the evacuation of Belt Park, which the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office has assisted with.

Officials responding to forest fire near Belt Park, recommending evacuations

After the evacuation order, the fire grew to one to 1.5 miles moving downhill through old growth sub alpine timber, according to the Fire Service, and as of the morning of July 12 had not yet crossed south of Divide Road. 

A helicopter is making bucket drops on July 12, according to the Fire Service, mainly to the south of the fire perimeter.

Air resources are being shared between the two fires with four helicopters doing bucket drops and a total of 123 personnel are assigned to the Divide Complex fires, according to the Forest Service.

“Resources are spread very thin with many large incidents nationwide. The highest priority is to protect the safety of fire personnel and protect human life,” according to the Forest Service.

An area closure is in place for public and firefighter safety on the Balsinger Fire. The order and map are here.

The closure is from the junction of North Pilgrim Creek trailhead #304 following Belt Creek East to the convergence of Belt Creek and Tillinghast Creek, south along Tillinghast Creek to the intersection with road 6511, along the Harley Park Connector trail to the intersection of Road #586, then moving West connecting to Trail 347, following trail 347 to where it meets Trail 342, then following Tenderfoot Creek west to Trail 343, following Trail 343 to Trail 341,then North along Trail 341 to the intersection of Road #268 and Road 839, following Road 839 north connecting with Trail #304.

The Ellis Fire has 86 personnel assigned and a pre-evacuation order was placed for the Smith River corridor from Camp Baker in the south to Blacktail Creek to the north. On Sunday, the high winds pushed the fire over the previously constructed line onto the Rockin C Ranch.

Visit the following sites for more information on the fires: