Fire Crews Tackle Lakeside Fire in Anticipation of Incoming Winds

Fire crews have contained 20 percent of the blaze

By Beacon Staff
Flathead Hotshots work the Bierney Creek Fire near Lakeside on Aug. 24, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

The Latest     

– More accurate mapping has calculated the size of the Bierney Creek Fire to be 60 acres, down from 80 acres

– Crews have contained 20 percent of the fire and are securing more line Thursday

– No mandatory evacuations have been ordered, and all evacuations to this point have been voluntary

Fire crews are focused on making quick progress suppressing the Bierney Creek Fire in Lakeside before high winds arrive this weekend with an anticipated cold front.

Firefighters are pursuing areas where fire activity remains high and have contained roughly 20 percent of the blaze.

More accurate mapping has calculated the size of the fire to be 60 acres, according to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Fire managers estimate that approximately 75 structures are within a half-mile of the fire line. No structures have been lost.

No mandatory evacuations have been ordered and all evacuations to this point have been voluntary, fire managers say. The evacuation strategy being used by the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department is “Ready, Set, Go.” Residents with homes in the Bierney Creek area have been contacted to prepare for evacuation and remain in the “Set” stage through a possible wind event associated with a cold front predicted for the weekend.

Crews spent Wednesday mopping up around structures and securing the fire perimeter. Firefighters also worked to find and extinguish spot fires inside and outside of the fireline.

High winds and active fire behavior Monday afternoon tossed embers onto the forest floor resulting in countless small spots of smoldering heat. These could quickly grow under dry or windy conditions, DNRC officials say.

“So while smoke was light and fire behavior was minimal to moderate on the fire, there is still a fair amount of heat on the ground and forest fuels available to burn,” DNRC spokesperson Ali Evans said.

The sheriff’s office has set up a checkpoint on the Bierney Creek Road, and only residents are being allowed past that point.

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