Meeting updates Arlee residents on Liberty Fire

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As Type I management teams worked in smaller groups behind him, Operations Chief Bob McCrea said fighting the Liberty fire is an uphill battle.

“There’s places I won’t” place crews, McCrea said, because of the “potentially dangerous” fire, mostly located in higher elevations, on steep terrain.

No evacuations were in place as of Tuesday morning.

Various aircraft are also being used to help monitor the fire, McCrea said.

During a 7 p.m. public meeting Monday, Kristen Allison, a public information officer with the management team, said that crews were out assessing the blaze. More information on how firefighters would contain the fire would be available at a later time.

Officials said that the South Fork entrance is still closed.

Fifty residents from the greater Arlee area gathered Monday evening at the Arlee Community Center as officials discussed a plan of attack on the nearby wildfire.

Sunday, those officials confirmed the Liberty wildfire, located approximately 17 miles southeast of Arlee, tripled in size after winds kicked up Sunday afternoon.

The hot, windy and dry weather Sunday caused hot spots to ignite, McCrea said.

“We just didn’t see it” grow, he said.

Crews have had to “disengage” efforts in the last couple weeks, McCrea said, because of the intensity with which the fire is burning.

One resident asked about power lines located near the fire, and McCrea said the fire has potential “to take it all,” the way the fire is “setting itself up.”

Devlin LaFrombois, fire investigator with the Division of Fire, also said that dryness, thick terrain, slope and higher elavation are making the fire difficult to battle.

LaFrombois also confirmed that eight suspicious fires have been discovered in the last two weeks, with five of them located in the Arlee area.

Fires have been ignited from causes ranging from campfires to chains dragging on the ground, LaFrombois said.

McCrea said that as wildfires continue to rage, firefighting crews are sharing resources between departments.

“That’s what we do… We share what we have, and they share with us.”

As of Tuesday afternoon the website stated the fire grew to 2,532 acres, based on an infrared flight and there are 178 personnel working to contain the blaze.

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