Bird Island Fire Calms, Magpie Rock 75% Contained

Public access remains closed on Flathead Lake island until further notice

By Maggie Dresser
Smoke rises from a fire on Bird Island on Flathead Lake on August 4, 2020. Photo by David Spear

Fire activity has calmed at the Bird Island Fire on Flathead Lake near Finley Point, a week after it was reported on Aug. 3, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park officials.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Fire Division conducted aerial drops on the flames the first night after the fire was sparked, but fire crews decided it wasn’t financially feasible to continue suppressing the fire from the air, said FWP spokesperson Dillon Tabish.

Due to dense undergrowth, tree snags and other hazards, officials also decided not to send firefighters to the 30-acre island for safety purposes.

Classified as a wildlife habitat protection area, FWP purchased Bird Island in the 1940s to protect and enhance Canada geese nesting habitat.

“This burn will actually enhance nesting habitat for Canada geese and lead to an improved environment on the island in the long run,” Tabish said. “By opening up the canopy, we may even get more nests.”

Bird Island public access remains closed until further notice. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Separately, the 3,539-acre Magpie Rock Fire near Dixon was 75% contained as of Aug. 7, with no growth since Aug. 2. The fire was reported on July 27 and is burning in steep, rocky terrain with dense brush and timber.

Revais 6000 Road between Revais and Magpie and Magpie 5000 Road are both closed.

There are no planned evacuations and no structures threatened near either wildfire.

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