Fires Still Smolder in Northwest Montana

By Beacon Staff

Firefighters were making significant progress on both the Condon Mountain and West Garceau fires this week and have been scaling back their efforts.

As of Aug. 27, the Condon Mountain Fire had burned 1,705 acres and was 50 percent contained. Near Polson, the West Garceau Fire had burned 9,863 acres and was 85 percent contained.

On Aug. 26 Rick Kusicko’s Type 2 Incident Management Team handed off control of the West Garceau Fire to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Division of Fire. On the Condon Mountain Fire, the U.S. Forest Service was sending equipment to eastern Montana, where it could be of more use. As of Aug. 27, two helicopters, a 20-person hot shot crew, a nine-person hand crew and two contracted engine crews remained on the blaze.

“It’s definitely winding down and a lot of that has to do with the hard work done by the crews and the helicopters,” said public information officer Tom Kempton.

High temperatures and low humidity were forecasted for the area this week and Kempton said firefighters were keeping an eye on the situation. A sprinkler system had been set up in the Dog and Condon Creek drainages that would douse flames in those areas. Officials said smoke will continue to rise from the fire for weeks to come, but at this point, the public should have little to worry about.

“We’re telling local people that they’ll be seeing smoke from the fire until the snow flies,” he said.

In the Bob Marshall Wilderness, two fires continue to smolder. The Prisoner Lake Fire has burned 4,080 acres and was downgraded to a Type 4 incident. The Elbow Pass Fire Complex had burned more than 19,000 acres by Aug. 27, covering the Flathead, Lolo and Lewis and Clark national forests.