Firefighters Work to Contain Whitefish Lake Blaze

The North Lake Fire is burning at the southern edge of the Stillwater State Forest near the north end of Whitefish Lake

By Beacon Staff
The North Lake Fire pictured July 29 at the north end of Whitefish Lake. Denali Sagner | Flathead Beacon

A wildfire detected Saturday afternoon near the north end of Whitefish Lake appears to have been sparked by equipment or machinery and spread from a dry hayfield into an adjacent timber stand with dense fuels, according to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC). Although firefighters and helicopters knocked down the main spread of the blaze, numerous spot fires have been reported across a 17-acre perimeter.

The North Lake Fire continues burning at the south end of Stillwater State Forest less than a mile west of the north end of Whitefish Lake. It’s being managed with containment tactics as a priority, as well as firefighter and public safety, DNRC officials said. There were no evacuations related to the incident as of Sunday evening, although fire managers urged the public to follow updates through the Flathead Office of Emergency Services, as any warning notices or evacuations will be coordinated through the county agency.

According to a narrative from DNRC, aerial support was dispatched to the North Lake Fire around 1 p.m. July 29 after the fire was spotted by the Werner Peak Lookout staff. The fire behavior included smoldering, creeping, running and group tree torching. The main fire encompasses roughly 2 acres, with multiple spot fires contributing to an estimated burned area totaling 5 acres. Aerial support included Type 1, 2 and 3 helicopters. Crews initially assigned to the fire worked on establishing hand lines around the perimeter of the fire and identifying spot fires.

“Minimal growth and fire activity was observed overnight,” according to DNRC officials on Sunday afternoon. “Today’s initial plans are for the incident commander and the squad of firefighters to get a full size up of the fire and the situation and identify and prioritize values at risk. No aerial support is being requested at this time.”

Resources on the fire include six Type 5 Engines, two water tenders, one Type 2 Initial Attack hand crew, one Type 1 Hotshot crew, and a Type 2 Dozer Pumpercat.

The fire is being managed by Montana DNRC, with cooperating agencies including the Flathead National Forest, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Office of Emergency Services, and multiple city and county fire departments assisting.