Montana Wildfire Roundup For September 4, 2018

Sep 4, 2018

All Stage 1 and Stage 2 fire restrictions have been lifted across northwest Montana.

Put simply, that means campfires and outdoor smoking is allowed again. Restrictions have also been lifted on operating equipment.

“It just means that we are lifting restrictions. It doesn’t mean that fire season is over,” says Ali Ulwelling, a spokesperson for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Even though the intensity of fire season has diminished, Ulwelling says there’s still plenty of potential for wildfire starts.

“The days are getting shorter, it’s feeling a little fall-ish and yet, we have not had substantial widespread moisture since July 3, and that’s two months ago now. The fuels are still dry. If we were to get an ignition, the right fuels, the right wind – there’s still possibilities. We’re asking folks to stay careful.”

That means ensuring campfire sites are clear of all vegetation. Also, keep those fires small. Before leaving a campsite, fires must be fully extinguished and cold to the touch.

Fall open burning season has not started and won’t until October 1 at the earliest, or until conditions warrant. 

Glacier National Park will start offering limited access to the currently closed west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road starting Friday.

Private cars will not be allowed on the stretch of road from Apgar to Logan Pass, but tours and a limited number of free shuttles will run.

A press release from the park says there is still significant firefighting activity on the road, which was closed August 12 due to the Howe Ridge Fire on the west side of Lake McDonald.

The free shuttles will run daily from the park’s west entrance to the Logan Pass Visitor Center with no stops in between. Passes will be available starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Apgar Visitor Center shuttle stop. The park says shuttles will run every 30 minutes, with the last one departing Apgar at 1:30pm. It says “shuttle capacity will be limited,” but has not said how many shuttles or seats on them will be available. The last returning shuttle from Logan Pass will depart at 4 p.m.

Two park concessioners, including Red Bus Tours, will also operate in the closure area. Reservations are available online.

The east side of Going-to-the-Sun Road has been open to private vehicles all summer, and remains so from St. Mary to the top of Logan Pass.