Wildfire danger is very high across the region, interagency fire officials announced Friday.
Hot and mostly dry weather is forecasted to continue through the weekend and thunderstorms are expected tonight into Saturday across western Montana, the National Weather Service said. On Sunday, a cold front could lead to critical fire weather conditions in Northwest Montana as winds become breezy and the relative humidity drops. Wind gusts could approach 58 mph.
Interagency fire officials announced the danger level rose to “very high” because fuels continue to dry out, creating a situation where small fires could grow rapidly.
Since July 1, there have been a total of 69 reported wildfires in the area. Over half of the fires were human-caused.
Campfires are banned on Weyerhaeuser property lands in Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, Missoula, Sanders and Ravalli counties due to very high fire danger. Interagency fire officials will continue to monitor conditions, and look closely at the number of human caused fire starts to determine if fire restrictions need to be ordered and put in place in the greater Flathead area.
While recreating in the Flathead, people are encouraged to stay on designated roads and avoid parking on dry brush or grass, as exhaust pipes and vehicle undercarriages can be very hot and easily start a wildfire. Spark arrestors should be attached to off-road vehicles, chain saws and other equipment with internal-combustion engines to ensure they are in working order.
Campers are reminded to never leaving a campfire unattended, and make sure fires are completely extinguished before leaving.
A Type II Incident Management Team with 416 personnel is managing the following five fires in the Highway 2 corridor west of Kalispell:
Rogers Mountain Fire: 78 acres, 60 percent contained, 69 personnel assigned. Located 3 miles Northwest of Happy’s Inn. Firefighters completed laying hose and will continue to extinguish hot spots around the perimeter of the fire. Crews will begin working into the interior of the fire utilizing water to cool of pockets of heat. Efforts will focus on the southern edge of the fire where the fire was most active yesterday.
Lazier Creek 3 Fire: 1,145 acres, 35 percent contained, 300 personnel assigned. Located south of Highway 2 and west of the Thompson River Road. Firefighters are working to extend hose lays from the northwestern perimeter of the fire as it continues to hold heat. Hotshot crews continue to improve fireline along the northern perimeter. Crews in the southeastern portion of the fire saw increased fire activity due to warmer weather and gusty winds including group tree torching and spotting. Aircraft will continue to drop water on the areas with the most heat to aid firefighters on the ground.
Grubb Fire: 16 acres, 100 percent contained, 16 personnel assigned. Located north of Pleasant Valley. Engine crews continue with mop up efforts extinguishing any remaining pockets of heat.
NW Meadow Peak Fire: 12 acres, 95 percent contained, 17 personnel assigned. Located northwest of Meadow Peak Lookout. Firefighters are focused on extinguishing remaining hot spots utilizing hose lays and engines to cool those areas off with water.
2645 Fire: 4 acres, 80 percent contained, 15 personnel assigned. Located just west of the NW Meadow Peak Fire. Crews continue with mop up efforts extinguishing remaining hot spots utilizing hose lays and a water tender to cool those areas off with water.
Closures: The Thompson River Road is closed at the junction with Highway 2 south to the 28 mile marker.