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

Fire Roundup: Active Sunday In Northwest Montana

A file photo courtesy MT DNRC Fire
Montana DNRC
A file photo courtesy MT DNRC Fire

Lightning on Friday afternoon resulted in several fire starts across Northwest Montana, some of which were not detected until Sunday.

Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation reports numerous fires scattered throughout the Pleasant Valley/Happy’s Inn/ACM/Fisher River area.

A press release from the agency says a Type 2 Team has been ordered to manage the fires and will be arriving tomorrow, Monday, July 10.

The DNRC says that evacuation notices have been initiated for the area of the Bend Ranger Station between Plains and Highway 2. That's due to the Lazier Creek 3 fire, which grew from 80 acres this morning to more than 400 acres this afternoon. The smoke column for this fire is visible from Kalispell. 

Pre-evacuation notices have been recommended for communities north of Highway 2 and northwest of Happy's Inn due to the Rogers Mountain Fire, which is estimated at 50 acres. The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office says they have notified residents, and that the fire is currently far enough from homes that no evacuation notices have been issued. 

Two fires were reported after 6 pm on the DNRC's Kalispell Unit: The Spring Creek fire was estimated at 1.5 acres and one fire engine was on scene. And the 2645 South Fire, which started at 6:15 also has one engine on it, the DNRC reports that it is being held by a network of roads in the area.

The Kalispell Unit is also on the NW Meadow Peak fire, estimated at 8-plus acres on the Flathead National Forest's Hungry Horse-Glacier View ranger district. 

These fires are in addition to 11 smaller fires that the DNRC has responded to in its Kalispell, Libby and Plains units today. Most are on "patrol" status, meaning they are being monitored with little or no active suppression effort. Three of the fires have been contained. 

A DNRC press release says: "A few of the fires have high potential for growth depending on the weather and winds over the next couple of days and new fires are expected as A record-breaking temperature of 96 degrees was recorded yesterday, breaking the previous record of 94 degrees from 1964. High temperatures combined with low fuel moistures created conditions where wildfires have potential to grow quickly. The Northwest Land Office has seen 20 new fires in the past 48 hours. In addition to lightning fires, we are also seeing human-caused fires such as an escaped bonfire, powerline, equipment, and fireworks."

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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