Storm System Sparks Fires Across Flathead Valley

Smoke has moved into the valley from the Copper King Fire near Thompson Falls

By Beacon Staff
The Copper King Fire burns near Thompson Falls on July 31, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

The storm system that passed through the Flathead Valley earlier this week sparked several new wildfires on the Flathead National Forest in the Swan Lake Ranger District, the agency announced.

Smoke has been visible this week throughout the valley due to the Copper King Fire, which has burned 27,788 acres near Thompson Falls. More than 838 personnel are battling the blaze.

The Cold Lake fire is on the ridge just south of Lower Cold Lake and is approximately 10 acres in size, in sub-alpine fir, and has several small spot fires. There are seven smoke jumpers and a 21-person initial attack crew assigned to the fire. A Type 1 helicopter and a Type 3 helicopter were conducting bucket work to help suppression efforts.

The Jim Lake fire is located about three-quarters of a mile east of Jim Lake and is 1 acre in size. There are 13 firefighters assigned to the fire. The firefighters are dealing with numerous snags and heavy fuel loads while installing a hose lay to expedite suppression efforts.

The Hall Lake fire is just west of Hall Lake and is 1.5 acres staffed with 22 firefighters. The firefighters made good progress on this fire and estimated containment of this fire is Sept. 1.

The Piper fire that started on Aug. 5 continues to stay within the confines of the management strategy. The Piper Fire is burning in steep, dangerous, and inaccessible terrain. Due to firefighter safety, the Piper Fire is being managed with a confine and contain strategy. Fire managers have a plan in place to take action on the fire when ground resources can safely mitigate the hazards. Currently crews are monitoring the fire closely.

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