A fire that forced families from their homes on the Flathead Indian Reservation has been contained, according to tribal officials. A week ago, the Firestone Flats fire burned 1,570 acres of land near Arlee and forced the evacuation of 21 families.
Rain helped firefighters contain wildfires around western Montana late last week, but the potential for more remains. Fire danger on the Flathead National Forest remained high as of Monday, Aug. 5. However, the southwest corner of Montana still has the highest potential for wildfires.
The Firestone Flats fire on the southern end of the Flathead Indian Reservation transitioned back to local Type 3 management on Aug. 3 after the Type 2 Northwest Montana Incident Management Team demobilized and went home. The fire was listed as 100 percent contained and this week fire crews will continue mopping up and monitoring the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Further east, in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Red Shale Fire has burned 10,300 acres of heavy timber on the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The fire was first reported by the Beartop Lookout on July 18, when a small amount of white smoke began rising from an area where lightning strikes had been observed the night before. Twenty-five firefighters are monitoring the fire. For public safety, some areas and trails have been closed, particularly in the Sun River Game Preserve and along the Continental Divide Trail. The trail leading to the Chinese Wall is open, but camping is not permitted. All people visiting and traveling in the backcountry are urged to use caution and be observant of changes in the weather and fire behavior. For a full list of closures, visit InciWeb.org.
While the Red Shale Fire is burning in remote country, residents of Polson got a scare on Wednesday, July 31 when 5.5 acres of land on the southeast side of town burned. The burn was sparked by fireworks and threatened several homes, however a quick response from the Polson Fire Department and other community fire services doused the flames before the next morning.
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