Pre-Evacuation Issued for Residents East of Hungry Horse as Ridge Fire Grows

Individuals and business owners on the east side of Highway 2, north of Spotted Bear Road to West Glacier, should make plans in the event of a possible evacuation order

By Denali Sagner
Smoke from the Ridge Fire obscures views of Hungry Horse Reservoir on Aug. 4, 2023. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday morning placed residents on the east side of Highway 2, north of Spotted Bear Road to West Glacier, under a pre-evacuation warning due to the growing threat of the Ridge Fire. 

A pre-evacuation warning means that agencies involved believe there is a possibility of fire spreading into the area. Residents are encouraged to make arrangements for their home, pets, livestock and family well in advance of a possible evacuation order in the future. This is not a mandatory evacuation. Law enforcement officials will conduct door-to-door notifications of residents in the affected area. 

According to a spokesperson for Flathead County, the pre-evacuation warning affects roughly 390 addresses, including campgrounds and short-term rental properties.

The Ridge Fire, which had burned 2,940 acres near Hungry Horse as of Tuesday afternoon, has prompted the closure numerous campgrounds and forest service roads in the Spotted Bear Ranger District and has threatened residences and structures in Coram, Martin City and Hungry Horse. 

The American Red Cross has established a shelter in Columbia Falls. Those planning to use the shelter should call the Red Cross in advance at 1-800-733-2767 prior to their arrival.  

Flathead National Forest officials on Tuesday closed the Hungry Horse Reservoir to all public access as the Ridge Fire and Tin Solider Complex, a group of fires east of Swan Lake, continued to grow, encircling the wilderness area. 

Currently, FS Road 38 is closed east of the junction of FS Road 497 (Desert Mountain Road) and East Side Road. West Side South Fork Road 895 is closed to all public traffic starting at the Hungry Horse Dam Visitor Center. The road will remain open approximately 800 feet south of the west abutment of Hungry Horse Dam to facilitate traffic flow. 

Evacuation notices will be announced/published on radio, tv, online, social media, and through the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office emergency notification system, Code Red. To sign up for emergency notifications and to see a homeowner’s to-do list, visit the Fire Service Area page on the Flathead County website, or call the Flathead County OES Public Information Line at 406-758-2111. 

Up to date information on the Ridge Fire can be found here

A map of the pre-evacuation area east of U.S. Highway 2, running north from Spotted Bear Road to West Glacier. Courtesy image

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