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

Montana Wildfire Update For July 22, 2021

Montana Wildfire News

Flathead County Sheriff’s Office issued an Evacuation Warning to residences in the North Fork Area Thursday due to the 200 acre Hay Creek Fire burning 5 miles west of Polebridge. The Evacuation Warning area begins at approximately the Gravel Pit North of Polebridge, including residents accessing their home from Long Bow Trail, and follows the North Fork Road up to Red Meadow Road, then extends West. The Evacuation Warning also includes residents on the North side of Red Meadow Road. Hay Creek Fire Evacuation Warning Map.

An Evacuation Warning means there is a potential threat to life and/or property. This warning is issued to give residents time to prepare for a possible evacuation. Residents & Visitors who require additional time to evacuate or need to move pets or livestock are advised to begin the evacuation process now.

According to a Facebook post from the Missoula County Sheriff's Office Thursday evening, "Evacuation warnings are in effect for Seeley Lake residents from Highway 83 up Redwood Lane to Badger Court to the east. Then from Redwood Lane north on Spruce and Tamarack Drive to Cottonwood Lane." That's due to a structure fire on Juniper Drive that "fully engulfed" multiple structures.

Evacuation orders are in effect due to a new fire in Meagher County. According to a Facebook post from the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, Meagher County is "issuing evacuations from north of Castle Town to Yankee Jim."

New restrictions on building a campfire or smoking on public lands start Monday across new portions of northwestern Montana.

The Stage II fire restrictions will take effect as the state faces a severe drought, continued forecast for hot, dry weather and firefighting resources stretched thin across the western U.S.

Beth Pargman is with the Flathead National Forest:

“It’s important for folks recreating on public lands to do their part. Each year, 70-80 percent of wildfires are human-caused, and anything that we can have the public’s help in doing to prevent those human starts is greatly appreciated.”

Stage 2 fire restrictions
Stage 2 fire restrictions

Earlier this month Gov. Greg Gianforte declared a wildland fire state of emergency in Montana. In that announcement, Gianforte said about 78 percent of the wildfires that had burned over 141,000 acres in the state at that time were human-caused.

Stage I restrictions allowed fires in some situations. Stage II fire restrictions ban all campfires. Liquid petroleum stoves are allowed in an area clear of flammable material. The rules also prohibit smoking outside of vehicles, buildings and development recreation sites and operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails.

Some portions of northwest Montana were already under Stage II restrictions, but the interagency fire managers’ announcement Thursday adds those restrictions to additional lands in the northwest corner of the state.

Much of NW Montana is already under Stage II restrictions, including Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal lands.

Federal, State, and Private jurisdictions in Montana under Stage II restrictions are:

  • Flathead National Forest: lands outside the Great Bear and Bob Marshall Wilderness in Flathead, Lake, Missoula, Lewis and Clark, and Powell Counties, Montana.
  • Kootenai National Forest: lands in Flathead, Lincoln, and Sanders Counties in Montana and Kootenai National Forest lands in Bonner and Boundary Counties in Idaho.
  • Glacier National Park
  • Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation: Kalispell, Libby, Stillwater, and Swan Units. State Land and Private Classified Forested Land within Flathead, Sanders and Lincoln Counties.
  • Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks: Region 1 within Flathead, Lake, Sanders, and Lincoln Counties.
  • Flathead County
  • Lincoln County
  • Sanders County
  • Lake County
  • Cities of Libby and Troy
  • Flathead Ridge Ranch is not allowing any fires on their lands.
  • Stimson Private Timber Company is not allowing any fires on their lands. No camping is allowed unless in a specifically designated area along Fisher River. Motorized use is not allowed behind closed gates.
  • F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company is not allowing fires, camping, smoking, fireworks, shooting, use of internal combustion engines, or motorized vehicles on or off road (Unless on an open, public road). These restrictions begin Thursday, July 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. Non-motorized use is currently allowed until further notice.
  • Green Diamond Resource Company: lands in Lincoln, Sanders, and Flathead Counties.
  • SPP Montana: timberlands in Lincoln, Sanders, and Flathead Counties.

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The National Interagency Fire Center reports there were 18 new fire starts in Montana on Wednesday, prompting moderate initial attacks by federal, state and local firefighters. Nine of those fires were controlled, contained or out by late Wednesday.

NIFC reports there are currently 32 uncontained large wildfires in the Northern Rockies which includes Montana, Idaho and North Dakota, covering more than 291,000 acres.

The largest of the new fires in Montana is the 200-acre Hay Creek Fire burning in timber in the Flathead National Forest.

The National Interagency Situation Reporting Program identifies 73 percent of the fires in Montana as human-caused and the rest lightning-caused.

Both the Northern Rockies and National fire preparedness levels are at 5, the highest state, because of widespread fire activity.