Updated Aug. 12, 11:30 a.m.
The lightning storms that blanketed Northwest Montana earlier this week have sparked more than a dozen small fires across the region and fire managers worry those blazes could grow as hot and dry weather continues through the week.
While the Thompson Fire in Glacier National Park has gained the most public attention as it burns more than 11,000 acres of land north of Nyack, firefighters are busy Wednesday battling smaller blazes that have cropped up. Tuesday afternoon was especially busy, according to Flathead County Fire Service Area Manager Lincoln Chute.
“There were resources, helicopters and people going in every direction,” Chute said.
One of the largest fires is located east of Libby on land owned by the Plum Creek Timber Company, near the Fisher River. According to Montana DNRC Libby Unit Fire Supervisor Wyatt Frampton, the Dunn Fire was first reported Tuesday afternoon and has burned more than 50 acres of land on a ridge top. A Type III incident management team is headed in to manage the fire, and as of Wednesday morning at least 30 firefighters were on the scene. Two helicopters are working the fire and the DNRC has brought in air tankers to drop fire retardant on the blaze.
According to Dan Rose, fire management officer for the Kootenai National Forest, more than a dozen small fires were reported on federal land in Lincoln County. One blaze near Eureka burned between 8 and 10 acres and on Wednesday morning at least 15 firefighters were assigned to it.
The Montana DNRC’s Kalispell unit also had their hands full on Tuesday, responding to three fires on state land. The largest burned 13.5 acres north of Rollins, according to the DNRC’s Jeremy Pris. On Wednesday, about 40 firefighters were trying to contain the blaze.
This story will be updated when more information becomes available.