Management Team to be Dispatched to Growing Condon Mountain Fire

By Beacon Staff

The U.S. Forest Service is dispatching a Type 3 incident management team to take over the Condon Mountain Fire, which had grown to 283 acres by Friday afternoon.

Flathead National Forest officials are holding a public meeting about the highly visible wildfire at the Swan Valley Community Hall in Condon at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The fire, located about four miles northeast of Condon, has grown significantly in the past 48 hours. Officials say no evacuations are planned at this time.

“We just want to talk to people and let them know what the plan is,” said Wade Muehlhof, public affairs specialist with the Flathead National Forest.

As temperatures remain in the 90s, steep, rocky terrain has complicated firefighting efforts. Fire managers have determined the conditions are unsafe to directly attack the fire. The fire is being jointly managed by the Flathead National Forest, Swan River State Forest and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Indirect containment lines have been completed in the Dog Creek and Condon Creek drainages. Helicopter bucket drops are focused on the north flank near Dog Creek where the most activity remains, according to the national forest.

The incident management team is scheduled to take over Saturday morning.

“With continued hot weather it is expected that the fire will exhibit significant growth through the remainder of this week, particularly in the afternoon and early evening burning periods,” a Flathead National Forest press release stated. “Smoke will likely remain quite visible from the fire for some time.”

The lightning-caused fire was first discovered on July 28. Public information officer Andrew Johnson said most efforts to douse the blaze have come from the air and crews have been digging fire lines around the area in hopes of containing it.

Currently, more than 40 people are working on the fire, including two five-person engine crews and a 20-person crew. One helicopter is assigned to the fire and another is available on standby.

Muehlhof said it was unlikely the fire would be out anytime soon.

“This is a fire that will likely be with us for the rest of the summer, at least until the fall rains,” he said.

Farther east in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Prisoner Lake Fire has burned 3,992 acres but poses little public threat due to its remote location. The Elbow Pass Fire Complex has burned more than 17,000 acres in both the Flathead and Lewis and Clark national forests. Both fires have resulted in numerous trail closures.

For up-to-date information about the wildfires over the weekend, visit www.inciweb.org.

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