Thompson-Divide Complex morning update – Aug 30, 8:00 am

Helicopter conducts water drop operations on the Sheep Fire, 29 Aug, 2015
Helicopter conducts water drop operations on the Sheep Fire, 29 Aug, 2015

Here’s the morning update for the Thompson-Divide Complex fires.

The big news continues to be the Sheep Fire, which is threatening Essex. Essex is under a mandatory evacuation order and US Route 2 is closed in the immediate vicinity . . .

Fire Information: (406) 387-4854/ (406) 314-1669, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Evacuation and Highway Closure Information: Flathead County EOC, (406) 758-2111, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Resources – Total Personnel: 316 Injuries: 1 Structures Lost: None

20-Person Hand Crews: 1 Type-1 and 3 Type-2, 1 Wildland Fire Management Module (8), 1 Helitack Crew (10)

Air Support: Helicopters (2 Type-1 & 2 Type-3), Engines: 17 Heavy Equipment: 15

The Thompson-Divide Complex is comprised of the Sheep and Granite Fires on the Flathead National Forest and the Thompson Fire in Glacier National Park. The Sheep fire is the incident priority as it is approaching US Hwy. 2 and the BNSF railway and is threatening the community of Essex.

On Aug. 27, Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry ordered a mandatory evacuation of Essex and the surrounding area because of increased activity on the Sheep Fire. For more information on the evacuation, call the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services at (406) 758-2111. The American Red Cross has established an evacuation center at West Glacier Elementary School at 160 Old Bridge Rd., (800) 272-6668.

Highway 2 is closed between mileposts 176.8 at Schellinger and 185 at Bear Creek. BNSF trains and Amtrak are running intermittently. Call 511 or visit for current road status. For more information on Amtrak call (800) 872-7245.

Stage II Fire Restrictions are in effect for northwestern Montana.

Visit for air quality info.

Closures are in effect for some trails in the vicinity of the fires for Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest. For more info, please see the Glacier NP page or for Flathead NF call Hungry Horse Ranger District (406) 387-3800. An area closure around the Granite and Sheep Fires in the Great Bear Wilderness is in place. Contact Hungry Horse Ranger District for more information. The order and map are posted at

The predicted cold front arrived in the fire area by mid-afternoon yesterday. Peak winds did not reach the levels anticipated. Today, the fire area will have mostly cloudy conditions with chances of showers and afternoon thunderstorms. The NW Park area did experience some trace amounts of rain over night. Temperatures will be reduced and humidity higher with SW winds of 15-25 mph switching to NW this afternoon. General fire behavior is expected to be moderated.

Sheep Fire, Flathead National Forest

Structures At Risk: 200+ structures, BNSF has several wooden snowsheds and 1 trestle, utilities infrastructure

Approximate Size: 2,101 acres Containment: 0% Structures Lost: None

Fire Update: The Sheep Fire is on the Flathead National Forest and burning in very steep terrain with limited access. The fire is about 1 mile south of Essex and about 1/8 mile from the train tracks between Tank Creek and MacDonald Creek. The fire has not crossed Sheep Creek to the south. Moderated fire activity will likely allow direct suppression efforts in the Sheep Creek area. Construction of the shaded fuel break around Essex is near completion. The logs and slash created by this effort are being moved to a safe location. Crews will begin reducing fuels along Essex Creek Road to the Marion Bridge using a feller-buncher to make this position more defensible if burning operations are required later. Crews may also begin fuels reduction efforts on County park land on the south side of Essex. Helicopters may have visibility problems early with haze and fog that may delay support operations with water drops and logistical shuttle missions. Structural protection measures are in place in Essex. Night shift continues to monitor fire movement and patrol the Essex area and Walton compound for any encroaching fire activity.

Granite Fire, Flathead National Forest

Approximate Size: 840 acres Containment: 0%

Fire Update: The Granite Fire is burning in very steep terrain in a mixed conifer forest. The fire is located west of Marias Pass and south of Hwy. 2. The fire started in the Great Bear Wilderness and has moved north out of the Wilderness. The fire has moved west along a ridge between 2 unnamed tributaries of Granite Creek and northwest toward Patrol Ridge. Crews have implemented structural protection measures on other facilities in the fire’s vicinity. Crews have established locations for fireline construction and possible shaded fuel break opportunities when sufficient crews become available for their construction. Helicopter bucket drops were used on a limited basis due to poor visibility.

Thompson Fire, Glacier National Park

Approximate Size: 17,857 acres Containment: 20%

Structures At Risk: 2 historic cabins Structures Lost: None

Fire Update: The Thompson Fire is located in remote south-central backcountry of Glacier National Park about 15 miles east of the West Glacier entrance in the Thompson and Nyack drainages west of the Continental Divide. All fire personnel have been removed from this fire. It will be monitored from the air for any increased fire activity. Pumps and hose lays are in place in case a future need arises. The fire continued to have some activity in the southeastern area of the fire yesterday.

Most of Glacier National Park is unaffected by this wildfire complex and is available for recreational use. Limited backcountry closures are in place. For more specific visitor information, please see the website

The Thompson Fire has not impacted park roads. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is open.

For information on the Reynolds Creek fire, please visit