News & Features

Fire in Bob Marshall Wilderness Grows; New Blaze in Sanders County

Snow Creek Fire grew from 30 acres to 475 acres on Monday


Snow Creek Fire is burning 19 miles northeast of Condon

Fire threatens historic cabin

Hot, dry weather through the week before thunderstorms this weekend

Updated: 2:45 p.m., Aug. 6

Firefighters in Sanders County are attacking a new blaze this afternoon at Mandy Gulch, about 25 miles up the Thompson River.

The Mandy Gulch Fire was reported to be about 10 acres. Multiple helicopters have been ordered. The cause of the fire remains unknown. The fire is being managed by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Meanwhile, a new lightning-caused fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness grew from 30 acres to 475 acres on Monday.

The Snow Creek Fire is burning 19 miles northeast of Condon and currently threatens a number of historic structures in the Flathead National Forest’s Spotted Bear Ranger District. The fire started on Aug. 2.

The fire displayed “extreme” behavior on Monday afternoon as it pushed east toward the Helen Creek drainage. Late in the day, the fire jumped the South Fork of the Flathead River. The fire also spread to the north, threatening the Black Bear Administrative site, including an historic cabin. Helicopters dropped water on the edge of the fire late Monday to give firefighters more time to wrap the cabin and set up water pumps.

As of Tuesday morning, 15 firefighters are assigned to the fire. Their primary mission is to protect buildings in the area and make contact with members of the public and outfitters who are currently in the area.

Officials expect to fire to continue to grow today.

Flathead National Forest rangers were advising the public to avoid the fire area, specifically East Side Trail No. 80, West Side Trail No. 263, or any trail between Meadow Creek Trailhead and the Salmon Forks Cabin.

Elsewhere in Northwest Montana, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation announced that the Tornilla Creek Fire south of U.S. Highway 2 near Middle Thompson Lake was 100 percent contained at 52 acres. The fire was first discovered on July 30. The cause of the fire is unknown.

Smoke from fires across the Pacific Northwest was starting to impact the Flathead Valley on Tuesday. As of 10 a.m., the air quality in Kalispell was “moderate.”

Warm and dry weather is expected to persist until the weekend when rain is expected to fall across western Montana. Unfortunately, lightning is expected to be part of that weather system as well.

This story will be updated when additional information becomes available.