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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 18, 2015

The Bear Creek Fire burning along Spotted Bear River Road, August 14, 2015.
The Bear Creek Fire burning along Spotted Bear River Road, August 14, 2015.

A roundup of the biggest fires burning in western Montana August 18, 2015.Stage 2 fire restrictions will go into effect across northwest Montana at 1:00 a.m. Thursday. Stage 2 restrictions prohibit any open burning, including campfires. These restrictions apply to any lands outside of designated city limits, regardless of ownership.

Areas going under stage 2 restrictions include:

  • Flathead National Forest,
  • Kootenai National Forest,
  • Bob Marshall Wilderness Lands, within the Flathead National Forest,
  • Glacier National Park,
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service lands,
  • MT-DNRC Northwestern Land Office,
  • Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Region 1 lands,
  • Flathead, Lake (outside of Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribe), Lincoln, and Sanders counties.

Stage 2 restrictions:
1.     Prohibit any open burning, including campfires.

2.     Smoking is allowed only in areas cleared of all flammable materials.

3.     Motorized vehicles must stay on designated roads and trails.

4.     The following acts are prohibited from 1:00 pm to 1:00 am:

a.     Operating an internal combustion engine- i.e. chainsaws and other equipment.

b.    Blasting, welding, or other activities that generate flame or flammable material.

c.     A patrol is required for one hour following cessation of all work as described in a. or b.

Exemptions include fires fueled solely by liquid petroleum or LPG, or other activities for which there is
a permit or written authorization.

An exemption does not absolve an individual or organization from liability or responsibility for any fire started by the exempted activity.

Sucker Creek Fire
The 2,640 acre Sucker Creek Fire north of Lincoln continues to spread into an old fire scar. Ground and air crews are aggressively fighting this fire in an attempt to keep it from spreading to dangerous heavy fuels and dead, but still standing snags. Officials are calling this fire 20 percent contained. Several road closures are still in effect, including: portions of Sucker Creek Road, North Fork Keep Cool Road, and Copper Creek Road. Alice Creek road was reopened Wednesday, but fire officials urge people to avoid any unnecessary travel in the area.

A community informational meeting will be held in Lincoln tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Hooper Park. Contact Bill Morse for more information on the Sucker Creek Fire, 928-699-4497

Bear Creek Complex
Around 30 fires continue to burn on the Flathead National Forest. Officials say the fires are active with short crown runs and some single tree torching. Most fires in the complex have grown little since yesterday.  The fires have prompted the closure of Spotted Bear River Road (#568), and all the trails that start from the road. An extensive area closure for the Trail Creek Fire is in place in the upper Middle Fork from the Spotted Bear River Road and the Eastside Reservoir Road around Upper and Lower Twin Creek, eastward to Dolly Varden Creek.

Kootenai Complex:
Officials say fire activity in the Kootenai Complex increased Monday due to high temperatures and low humidity, however the area burned is still estimated at around 2,000 acres. Firefighters are preparing for an increase in activity on all fires today, with heavy smoke anticipated as well.

There will be a community meeting for the Northeast Kootenai Complex Tuesday evening, August 18, at 7:00 p.m. at the Trego Civic Center. Agency administrators, fire management personnel, and public information staff will provide up to date information on the status of the five fires that comprise the complex. Call (406) 882-8308 for info.

Thompson Divide Complex
The Thompson Divide Complex in Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest is burning 13,600 acres, and is 0 percent contained. The Thompson Fire has prompted closure of some trails and back country campsites on the west side of the Continental Divide in the vicinities of the Nyack and Thompson drainages. Similar closures were also included on the east-side of the Continental Divide in the vicinities of the Cut Bank and Two Medicine drainages. There may be additional trail closures in the area if fire activity increases. Firefighters are preparing for increased winds and warmer temperatures tomorrow through Thursday.

A public meeting about the Thompson Divide Complex will be held on Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. at the Izaak Walton Hotel outside the shelter in Essex.

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