Hot, Smoky Conditions Persist as Cold Front Approaches

Even with cooler temperatures and moisture in the forecast, fire conditions remain extreme in western Montana

By Beacon Staff
A firefighter on the West Lolo Complex blaze on August 9, 2021. Courtesy of InciWeb

A wildfire burning near Thompson Falls had grown to approximately 32,000 acres on Aug. 16 as firefighters braced against warm, gusty winds and dense smoke, which they expected would relent as an approaching cold front delivered badly needed precipitation later in the week.

“The wet weather ahead should give us a break with much improved air quality, so hang on,” according to an incident report issued that day.

Listed at 15% containment, the Thorne Creek Fire was originally part of the West Lolo Complex, but is now the only fire remaining. It is located approximately six miles northeast of Thompson Falls and is being managed under a full suppression strategy by a Type 2 Southern Area Incident Management Gold Team.

Meanwhile, firefighters continued to mop up hot spots in the southwest corner of the Hay Creek Fire burning west of Glacier National Park near Polebridge, where evacuation warnings remain in effect. Until wetter weather arrives this week, isolated smokes from areas of residual heat within the containment perimeter are expected.

Over the weekend, engines from Glacier National Park and the Department of Natural Resources also worked to mop up hot spots along Hay Creek Road 376, and are patrolling the area as needed. On Aug. 13, a Black Hawk helicopter assigned to the Hay Creek Fire assisted with initial attack on a new start located near Big Hawk Lake in the Jewel Basin, and on Aug. 15 it flew to the 2700 Boulder Fire on the east shore of Flathead Lake to assist with bucket drops of water — evidence of the strain on resources caused by wildfires burning across the West.

As fire crews respond to new starts on an almost daily basis while attempting to hold the line on numerous wildfires, officials are pleading with the public to heed fire restrictions and behave responsibly.

The fire danger is listed as “very high” in Montana and Stage 2 Fire Restrictions are in effect with campfires prohibited. Visit www.mtfireinfo.org for additional Montana fire restrictions.

For additional information and daily updates, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

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