—More than 20 fires burning on Kootenai National Forest
—Fire danger moved to “very high” in the Flathead Valley
—Firefighters catch small fire near Essex in Glacier Park
Updated: July 31, 3:45 p.m.
Nearly two-dozen fires, ranging in size from less than an acre to nearly 200 acres, burned across the Kootenai National Forest on Tuesday.
Most of the lightning-caused fires burned west of Lake Koocanusa and north of U.S. Highway 2, in the remote Yaak region of Lincoln County. Firefighters spread out across the area trying and contain the fires before they impact populated areas.
The largest of the blazes, the Davis Fire, had burned between 150 and 200 acres as of Tuesday morning. Kootenai National Forest officials had initially reported that the fire had burned 1,000 acres on Monday but later they were able to get a more accurate estimate of the fire’s size. Multiple aircraft were being used to fight the fire and a Type II incident management team was taking over management of firefighting efforts.
The Feeder Fire north of Troy had burned 22 acres as of Tuesday morning. Two hotshot teams, nine smokejumpers and multiple aircraft were being used to contain the fire.
The Porcupine Fire has burned 12 acres between Yaak and Lake Koocanusa. One hotshot team was being dispatched into the woods to battle the blaze.
The newest blaze is the Ten Mile Fire on the east side of Lake Koocanusa. According to Kootenai National Forest officials, the fire had burned 15 to 20 acres as of Tuesday morning. Two helicopters and one fixed-wing aircraft were being used to try and tame the flames.
Firefighters were also still working on the Highway 37 Fire, 4 miles north of Libby. As of July 30, the fire had burned 70 acres and was 60 percent contained. Officials have worried about the fire’s proximity to the former W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite mine and the potential for it to release asbestos-laden ash into the air. However, the fire has grown little since it first started on July 19.
As of Tuesday, no structures were threatened by any of the fires burning on the Kootenai National Forest.
On Tuesday afternoon, local fire managers in the Flathead Valley increased the fire danger to “very high.” Officials said Stage 1 fire restrictions are possible if the hot and dry weather continues to bake the region. The Kootenai National Forest entered Stage 1 fire restrictions last week. Stage 1 fire restrictions prohibit campfires outside of designated recreation sites or smoking anywhere outside of an enclosed vehicle or building.
Further east, in Glacier National Park, firefighters caught the first notable fire of the year in the park late Monday. The Goat Lick Fire near Essex was less than an acre, according to spokesperson Lauren Alley. On Tuesday morning, firefighters were mopping the fire up not far from the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.
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