Fire Danger Elevated to ‘High’ on Flathead National Forest

Officials say hot, dry conditions are prime for wildfires

By Justin Franz
Crews work to contain a wildfire west of Lakeside on Aug. 22, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

The Flathead National Forest has elevated its fire danger to “high” as hot, dry conditions persist across the region.

U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Janette Turk said the public should be aware of the elevated fire danger. There are no fire restrictions currently in place.

She noted in a press release that unattended campfires can quickly escape and grow into full-fledged wildfires in the right conditions.

“Forest visitors should be very aware of the conditions while visiting and recreating in northwest Montana,” Turk said. “We can’t stop the hot weather and lightning storms, but we can do our part to be ‘Firewise’ when we are camping, traveling, and at home in the wildlands.”

Turk said wildland firefighters have responded to 15 fires since June 28 on the Flathead National Forest, 11 of which were human caused. All of the fires have been kept to less than 1 acre.

Firefighters on the Kootenai National Forest are currently battling a 31-acre blaze near Rexford. About 90 firefighters are tackling the South Fork Hill Fire, located on the west side of Lake Koocanusa, according to Bryan Donner, district ranger for the Kootenai National Forest. As of July 6, containment line had been constructed around the main blaze but spot fires remain a concern.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for much of western Montana through Saturday as temperatures climb closer and closer to 100 degrees. Officials were warning people to limit the amount of strenuous activity they do outside in the heat and stay hydrated.