— Gibralter Ridge Fire now estimated at 1,133 acres
— Extreme fire behavior threatening homes
— Seven new fires on west side of Glacier National Park prompt closures
Updated: Aug. 9, 3:55 p.m.
Evacuation orders and area closures remain in effect as a wildfire burns actively in the Kootenai National Forest east of Eureka.
Meanwhile, seven small fires were reported on the west side of Glacier National park, prompting a handful of road, trail and backcountry campground closures.
The Gibralter Ridge Fire, now estimated at 1,133 acres after being re-evaluated, is experiencing extreme fire behavior with uphill runs in a dense section of timber. The lightning-caused fire, which sparked Monday night, has forced roughly 30 residences to evacuate and authorities are asking others in the path of the blaze to flee.
A public meeting will be held Wednesday night at 5 p.m. at the Eureka High School. Fire officials will discuss the current fire status, expected activities, and safety concerns.
The following areas are under immediate evacuation: Sherman Creek, Griffith Creek, Therriault Pass, and Stevens Creek. The following areas are under a standby for evacuation: Sinclair Creek Rd. (south/east of West Road) and the Glen Lake area.
The Ten Lakes Scenic Area is closed and Graves Creek is closed at the Therriault Pass intersection. The eastern boundaries of Ten Lakes are closed at the Tuchuck Campground.
The American Red Cross and the Eureka community have opened a shelter at the First Church of God, 1295 2nd Ave. E. in Eureka, for those affected by the blaze.
A Type II incident management team led by Rick Connell is taking over the blaze Wednesday evening.
The fire landed atop the latest National Situation Report, which details the highest priority blazes in the country. It’s among several large fires burning across Montana.
The same storm that sparked the Gibralter Ridge Fire also started at least seven fires on the west side of Glacier National Park. Tthe fires were all less than an acre and are being managed as the North Fork Fire Complex. By late Wednesday afternoon, at least six of the fires were either out or contained but a number of closures remained in effect, according to National Park Service officials.
The Inside North Fork Road from the Polebridge Ranger Station to Logging Creek is currently closed. The Quartz Lake trail system is closed from both the Inside North Fork Road trailhead and the Bowman Lake trailhead. The Logging Lake Trail is closed to Grace Lake and the Logging Foot, Adair, Grace, Lower Quartz, and Upper Quartz backcountry campgrounds are all closed.
Park officials are warning visitors that they will likely see fire related operations in the North Fork through the week.
Tinderbox conditions are plaguing the region, creating high fire danger.
Strict fire restrictions are in place across Western Montana, prohibiting campfires and internal combustion engines without a spark arrestor in the outdoors. Stage II restrictions mean people are prohibited from using motorized vehicles off road; operating any internal combustion engines during certain hours; having a fire of any kind, smoking or using fireworks.
This story will be updated when more information becomes available.