Flathead County Rescinds Evacuation Order Near Hungry Horse

Although rain has hampered fire activity, a forest closure throughout the Spotted Bear Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest remains in effect, including public access restrictions on Hungry Horse Reservoir

By Micah Drew
Smoke from the Ridge Fire on Hungry Horse Reservoir on Aug. 4, 2023. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino on Thursday morning rescinded the Aug. 1 mandatory evacuation order for the Heinrude Community along Hungry Horse Reservoir in the vicinity of the Ridge, Doris Point and Tin Soldier Complex wildfires.

According to a Thursday news release, Heino, along with the Southwest Area Incident Management Team 1 and the Flathead National Forest, determined the risk of danger to life and property in the remote community has diminished enough to roll back the evacuation order.

A forest closure throughout the Spotted Bear Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest is still in effect, which includes all public access to Hungry Horse Reservoir. Heinrude residents will need to contact the Hungry Horse Ranger Station at 406-387-3800 to make arrangements to access their properties.

“Recent precipitation has limited fire activity to smoldering on all fires and the rainfall has slowed repair work,” according to a daily update on the wildfire complex. “A low amplitude ridge of high pressure will build over the region today through the weekend causing a slow warming and drying trend. However, another low-pressure system will impact the area with cooler temperatures and more moisture on Monday.” 

The Tin Soldier Complex, which includes the Bruce and Sullivan fires, has burned 8,165 acres near the southwest shore of Hungry Horse Reservoir. As of Thursday, fire officials report the blaze is 94% contained. The nearby Doris Point and Ridge fires flanking the northern end of the reservoir are 95% and 76% contained, respectively.

Across all three fires, recent rain significantly limited fire behavior, with firefighters mostly seeing smoldering throughout the interior of each fire.

The area near the Ridge and Doris Point fires received more than 1.5 inches of rain over the last operational period, which limited fire activity significantly. This also slowed ongoing repair work on contingency lines on the Ridge Fire. Additionally, debris came down on the roadway near the Doris Point Fire that firefighters were not able to remove. Montana Department of Transportation is assisting with the road debris removal. Firefighters also noticed rising creek water in the area and took action to remove pumps from streambeds and shorelines in anticipation of rising waters.

Today crews will assess access and rollout on the roads, as well as load some pumps and hoses for backhaul. Ground resources will seek out opportunities for additional repair work on contingency lines. 

Ridge, Doris Point and Tin Solider Complex fires. Courtesy image