As August approaches the halfway mark and fire activity in the Flathead Valley remains at a minimum, forest officials are hopeful the wildland fire season will stay “well below the average” this summer.
“It doesn’t look like fire season is going to materialize like it has in the past couple of years,” said Brent Olson, assistant fire management officer in the Swan Lake Ranger District.
A recent layer of smoky haze floated through the valley, but forest officials said it was largely the result of hundreds of fires in British Columbia, not local burns.
Denise Germann, fire spokesperson for Flathead National Forest, Glacier National Park and Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, said fire crews have responded to about 150 starts, but no incident has been greater than 10 acres.
The same has held true for other fire districts.
In the Swan Lake district, Olson reported only 12 incidents in the Swan Valley, with the largest fire only burning seven acres. He sites a “fair amount” of precipitation in July and August as the reason for so few blazes, and is confident the rain levels will stave off recent lightning strikes.
Fire Management Officer Michael Dardis said fire activity in the Hungry Horse and Glacier View districts is well below the averages from last year. Dardis said his crews have seen typical summer fires, such as small lightning and campfire spark-ups, but nothing major.
Germann said state and local agencies are sending up aerial fire detection flights almost daily to keep tabs on the forests. She also said Montana hot shot crews are seeing action in California, Idaho and Alaska.
As always, Germann reminded forest users to stay vigilant in their fire safety efforts, especially by making sure their campfires are cold to the touch before deeming it extinguished.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.