Amid Increasing Activity, Fire Danger Elevated to High in Flathead National Forest

By Beacon Staff

Fire danger in the Flathead National Forest has been elevated to high following the emergence of a new wildfire while others continue to grow rapidly in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

The Rapid Creek Fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness has reached 3,000 acres and has merged with two other wildfires burning in the area, according to national forest officials. The fires encompass the Elbow Pass Complex, which is being taken over by a management team on Tuesday.

Flathead National Park officials said a new fire was detected Monday afternoon in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The Prisoner Lake Fire is estimated to be 175 acres and is burning northwest of the Rapid Creek Fire. The Union Peak Fire in the Swan Lake Ranger District is making a run due to afternoon winds. Smoke may be visible from the valley.

The current fire conditions led national forest officials to elevate the fire danger level from moderate to high.

The Rapid Creek Fire began in the upper Rapid Creek drainage and is burning in heavy timber that includes areas that were killed by mountain pine beetle, according to forest officials. The fire has burned into the Lewis and Clark National Forest. As of noon Monday, a third fire — the Triple Divide Fire — began burning in the same area.

The Elbow Pass Complex is being managed for suppression, but rough terrain and unfavorable weather conditions are limiting the amount of resources that can be deployed safely, forest officials said.

There are trail closures in place for public and fire fighter safety.