Firefighters Gain Ground on Kootenai Wildfires

Red flag warning issued east of the divide

By Justin Franz
The Porcupine Fire in the Kootenai National Forest. Photo courtesy of the USFS.

The Latest

—Firefighters make progress containing Lincoln County fires

Red flag warning issued for east side of Glacier National Park

Fire danger remains “very high” in the Flathead Valley

Updated: Aug. 1, 4:50 p.m.

Firefighters are making progress containing a number of lightning-caused fires on the Kootenai National Forest today.

Meanwhile, east of the Continental Divide, firefighters are bracing for what could be a busy few days after the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for much of the week for Glacier County and the surrounding area, including the east side of Glacier National Park.

The largest fires in Northwest Montana are currently burning on the Kootenai National Forest in Lincoln County, where a July 28 lightning storm sparked nearly two-dozen wildfires. The Davis Fire remains the largest fire, having burned 213 acres as of Tuesday. 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 are being used to fight the fire and a Type II incident management team has taken over firefighting efforts. A number of roads and trails in the Northwest Peak Scenic Area have been closed due to the fire.

The Feeder Fire north of Troy has burned 11 acres and as of Wednesday morning was 70 percent contained. Kootenai National Forest officials previously reported that the fire was 22 acres on Tuesday but later adjusted that number.

The Ten Mile Fire east of Lake Koocanusa was listed at 20 acres on Wednesday morning and firefighters were hopeful that they would be able to dig containment line around the entire fire before evening. Multiple road and trail closures were in effect because of the fire, including NF 3553, NF 3560, and NF 7306, Ten Mile Trail and Blackfoot Divide Trail.

Late Wednesday, the Kootenai National Forest reported the discovery of one new fire. The Inch Fire on the Rexford/Fortine Ranger District has burned less than an acre as of Wednesday morning.

As of Wednesday, no structures were threatened by any of the fires burning on the Kootenai National Forest.

Firefighters are hoping to make progress on containing all of the fires before a cold front brings wind to the area later this week.

Farther east, the National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for much of the Rocky Mountain front due to warm temperatures and a fast winds. A red flag warning was in effect for East Glacier Park and other communities until 9 p.m. tonight and again from 10 a.m. Thursday until 12 a.m. Saturday.

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.

Although there are no major fires in the Flathead Valley, the area has been blanketed with smoke from fires in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

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