Category Archives: Fire Information and Status

Cyclone Lake Fire update

Here’s the latest from the U.S. Forest Service on the Cyclone Lake Fire as of August `19, 2017 at 3:00pm. Note, by the way, that Forest Road 909 is now open from the intersection with Hay Creek Road (Rd 376) to the Cyclone Lookout trailhead.

Also, the Forest Service sent us a map of the fire.


Fire Information: (406) 387-3802
Facebook:      https://www.facebook.com/discovertheflathead

QUICK FACTS:
Location:  23 miles north of Columbia Falls, MT, in the Coal Creek State Forest.
Detected: August 12, 2017, 4:30 p.m.     Cause:  Lightning        Legal Description:  NE, Section 21, T34N, R21W;
Lat/Long:  Lat. 48° 41’ 72”, Long. 114° 18’ 045”   Current size: 36 acres    Containment: 90%
Resources on the fire:  Crews: Two 20-person; Engines: 2 plus crew members; Water Tenders: 1
Ownership: Montana Department of Natural Resources, Stillwater State Forest; Jurisdiction: Flathead    National Forest;  Other cooperators: Border Patrol, Flathead County.

FIRE SUMMARY: The Cyclone Lake Fire is burning in the Coal Creek State Forest in the North Fork area; the Flathead National Forest is responsible for wildfire response in that area.  This fire is being managed with full suppression tactics, with firefighter and public safety as a priority, in cooperation with Montana DNRC managers.  The fire is burning in heavy timber, and in pockets of previously burned areas in 2000 and 2001, with dead and down fuels.  There are no evacuation warnings in place nor any structures threatened.  August 12, when the fire was first detected by Cyclone Lookout, initial attack resources responded to the fire, including 4 engines, 1 dozer, 3 helicopters performing water drops, and retardant drops from air tankers.  Extreme fire behavior was observed, including running, torching, and spotting.  The Border Patrol assisted by securing Forest Road #909.

Cyclone Like Fire, Aug 2017 - Martin City water tender filling port-a-tanks, with Forest Service engine pumping water into hoses along the fire perimeter
Cyclone Like Fire, Aug 2017 – Martin City water tender filling port-a-tanks, with Forest Service engine pumping water into hoses along the fire perimeter

CURRENT SITUATION:
Over this past week, firefighters have worked to construct fire line around the entire perimeter of the fire, as well as construct a water hose system with pumps.  Mop up has continued, with only a few smokes found in the interior today.  Firefighters will continue mopping up and searching for any smokes or hot spots.  The public is asked to not travel on Forest Road #909 from the junction with Forest Road #317 to the Cyclone Lookout Trailhead junction, as fire traffic is concentrated in that area.

The forest will share updated fire information if significant fire activity occurs.

Going to see the eclipse? Don’t forget wildfire risk

Whitewater Fire, 2017 - Willamette National Forest
Whitewater Fire, 2017 – Willamette National Forest

The tone is a little overwrought, but this article has some good points about the risks of large crowds gathering along the solar eclipse path during peak wildfire season . . .

At the peak of wildfire season, all it takes is one errant spark to start a blaze, potentially leading to wildfires engulfing thousands of acres. It isn’t just the fire itself that’s dangerous, but also the smoke, the degraded air quality, and the potential closures of roads. In Oregon, in particular, over a million people are expected to travel to the seventy-mile-wide path of totality, in the heart of the hottest, driest part of the year. The entire pacific northwest, including parts of Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming, has active wildfires going right now, threatening the air, roads, and general safety of residents and tourists alike…

Read more . . .

Cyclone Lake Fire information report

Cyclone Lake Fire from Cyclone LO, Aug 13, 2017
Cyclone Lake Fire from Cyclone LO, Aug 13, 2017

The Flathead National Forest just released the following information report on the Cyclone Lake Fire. To view the original document (PDF format) click here. . . .

Fire Information: (406) 387-3802
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/discovertheflathead

QUICK FACTS:

Location: 23 miles north of Columbia Falls, MT, in the Coal Creek State Forest.
Detected: August 12, 2017, 4:30 p.m. Cause: Lightning
Legal Description: NE, Section 21, T34N, R21W;
Lat/Long: Lat. 48° 41’ 72”, Long. 114° 18’ 045”
Current size: 36 acres Containment: 10%
Resources on the fire: Crews: Two 20-person; Engines: 4 plus crew members; Water Tenders: 3; Dozers: 1; Helicopters: 2
Ownership: Montana Department of Natural Resources, Stillwater State Forest;
Jurisdiction: Flathead National Forest;
Other cooperators: Border Patrol, Flathead County.

FIRE SUMMARY: The Cyclone Lake Fire is burning in the Coal Creek State Forest in the North Fork area; the Flathead National Forest is responsible for wildfire response in that area. This fire is being managed with full suppression tactics, with fire fighter and public safety as a priority, in cooperation with Montana DNRC managers. The fire is burning in heavy timber, and in pockets of previously burned areas in 2000 and 2001, with dead and down fuels. There are no evacuation warnings in place.

CURRENT SITUATION:
August 12, when the fire was first detected by Cyclone Lookout, initial attack resources responded to the fire, including 4 engines, 1 dozer, 3 helicopters performing water drops, and retardant drops from air tankers. Extreme fire behavior was observed, including running, torching, and spotting. The Border Patrol assisted by securing the Forest Road #909.

Yesterday, August 13, dozer line was constructed around the fire where possible, and hand crews began building fire line to connect between the dozer lines. Water hoses with pumps were set up and used to cool the edges of the fire and mop up. A helicopter was also used to perform water drops. Fire behavior moderated with the cooler weather, with intermittent torching, creeping, and smoldering.

Today, plans are to continue constructing fire line with hand crews and do mop up work. The public is asked to not travel on Forest Road #909 from the junction with Forest Road #317 to the Cyclone Lookout Trailhead junction, as fire traffic is concentrated in that area.

The forest will share updated fire information if significant fire activity occurs.

‘Wildfire Information’ page updated

Granite Fire evening of Aug 26, 2015
Granite Fire evening of Aug 26, 2015

As is usual this time of year, our “Wildfire Information” page has gotten a few updates.

The “Wildfire Information” page is a collection of wildland fire information links, including prescribed burns, applicable to the Flathead and Kootenai National Forests and Glacier National Park. There’s also a group of links for Canadian wildfire information.

And remember . . .

TO REPORT A WILDLAND FIRE – CALL (406) 758-5260 OR CALL 911

Several small fires in Glacier Park trigger closures

Glacier National Park Thompson Fire 2015 at Sunset
A column of smoke from the Glacier National Park Thompson Fire could be seen rising over the Rocky Mountain Front at sunset Aug. 12, 2015. (Photo by Jonathan Moor)

Glacier Park has had several lightening triggered fires over the past week or so. Most are along the west face of the Continental Divide in the North Fork and most are pretty small. There are trail closures in several areas, including the Quartz Lake Loop and the Logging Lake drainage. The Hungry Horse News has a good summary . . .

Glacier National Park has closed some trails and a portion of the Inside North fork Road from Polebridge down to Logging Creek as it battles several small fires in the region.

The fires aren’t large, about a tenth of an acre or so, but there is one at Grace, Logging, Cummings Meadow and Quartz Lake.

Small fires at Bowman Creek and Big Prairie have been put out. Firefighters were also working on a small blaze on Snyder Ridge. Yesterday, a helicopter made water dumps on the fire, scooping water out of Lake McDonald. Visitors could also see helicopters getting water out of the North Fork of the Flathead…

Read more . . .

Gibraltar Ridge Fire closure order affects Trail Creek, PNT

Gibraltar Ridge Fire C.losure Map, Aug 8, 2017
Gibraltar Ridge Fire Closure Map, Aug 8, 2017

A closure order was issued this afternoon in the Kootenai National Forest as a result of the Gibraltar Ridge Fire in the Eureka area.

This closure affects travel from the North Fork over Trail Creek into the Kootenai. The Forest Service is posting signs at the North Fork Road/Trail Creek Road junction, and at the Tuchuck Trailhead.

This also affects the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT). Notifications are going up at strategic trailheads for the PNT in both the Kootenai and Flathead Forests.

For more information on the Gibraltar Ridge Fire, see the Inciweb page at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5474/

Stage II fire restrictions in effect

Wildfire Plume - USFS
Wildfire Plume – USFS

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, trying to stay cool, you probably know that just about our entire region is under Stage II fire restrictions.

The short version::

  • No fires, including campfires.
  • No smoking except “within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.”
  • No motorized vehicles are allowed off designated roads and trails.

Also, there are “hoot owl” restrictions (prohibited from 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) on

  • Operating any internal combustion engine (e.g., a chainsaw).
  • Welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.
  • Using an explosive.

Additionally a one hour foot patrol in the work area is required following cessation of all “hoot owl” activities.

For more information on area fire restrictions, see https://firerestrictions.us/mt/.

For the full text of the press release sent out by area agencies, see https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/flathead/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD552299.

Cautious optimism from wildfire experts in Northwest Montana

Lots of moisture as July approaches has wildfire experts cautiously optimistic . . .

Wildfire experts will rarely, if ever, venture a guess as to what the upcoming fire season holds until they’re in the middle of it.

But with Northwest Montana entering the first day of summer with a healthy reservoir of high-elevation snowpack and above-average spring rains, there’s cautious optimism that the fire season will at least be slow to start.

“Nothing’s super dry, and spring rains were good,” said Jim Flint, Fire Management Officer for the Flathead National Forest’s Spotted Bear Ranger District. “But if it doesn’t rain in the rest of June, July and August, we’ll have a fire season.”

Read more . . .

“Era of Megafires” Presentation at FVCC, April 25

Wildfire Plume - USFS
Wildfire Plume – USFS

From the official press release . . .

Wildfire plays an important and integral role in our forested ecosystems. Local fire history records show that our forests have evolved with fire for thousands of years. We have successfully suppressed 98% of wildfires in the greater Flathead Area since approximately 1930, and the resulting accumulation of fuel creates an environment conducive to large fire growth. It’s important for our community to understand wildfire and promote a proactive approach to mitigating impacts to our communities; private property, airshed, watersheds and forest ecosystems.

On April 25th, the community is invited to a public event and conversation at the Flathead Valley Community College, Arts and Technology Building Room 139 at 6:00 p.m., for an “Era of Megafires” presentation. This 70-minute multi-media traveling presentation by Dr. Paul Hessburg, will help our community understand the issues surrounding Megafires, so collectively we can move toward solutions that can change the way we receive wildfire and related smoke. Dr. Hessburg has conducted fire and landscape ecology research for more than 27 years.

The “Era of Megafires” presentation will be followed by a question and answer session around topics that are relevant to the community in order to identify local challenges and local actions. Typically, different communities face different obstacles when it comes to wildfire preparedness and resilience.

The intent of this presentation is to significantly reduce the amount of loss we are experiencing by developing a collective understanding of fire, approaches to wildfire management, and how landowners can engage.

The “Era of Megafires” is brought to you by Flathead Area FireSafe Council, Northern Rockies Fire Science Network; Southwestern Crown Collaborative, Montana DNRC/Kalispell Unit; Flathead National Forest, Flathead Valley Community College and FireSafe Montana. For more information, contact Mike West, Flathead National Forest at 758-3539, or Ali Ulwelling, MT DNRC at 751-2270.

“Era of Megafires” presentation, April 25, 6:00pm

Era of Megfires poster
Era of Megfires poster

From the official press release . . .

Wildfire plays an important and integral role in our forested ecosystems. Local fire history records show that our forests have evolved with fire for thousands of years. We have successfully suppressed 98% of wildfires in the greater Flathead Area since approximately 1930, and the resulting accumulation of fuel creates an environment conducive to large fire growth. It’s important for our community to understand wildfire and promote a proactive approach to mitigating impacts to our communities; private property, airshed, watersheds and forest ecosystems.

On April 25th, the community is invited to a public event and conversation at the Flathead Valley Community College, Arts and Technology Building Room 139 at 6:00 p.m., for an “Era of Megafires” presentation. This 70-minute multi-media traveling presentation by Dr. Paul Hessburg, will help our community understand the issues surrounding Megafires, so collectively we can move toward solutions that can change the way we receive wildfire and related smoke. Dr. Hessburg has conducted fire and landscape ecology research for more than 27 years.

The “Era of Megafires” presentation will be followed by a question and answer session around topics that are relevant to the community in order to identify local challenges and local actions. Typically, different communities face different obstacles when it comes to wildfire preparedness and resilience.

The intent of this presentation is to significantly reduce the amount of loss we are experiencing by developing a collective understanding of fire, approaches to wildfire management, and how landowners can engage.

The “Era of Megafires” is brought to you by Flathead Area FireSafe Council, Northern Rockies Fire Science Network; Southwestern Crown Collaborative, Montana DNRC/Kalispell Unit; Flathead National Forest, Flathead Valley Community College and FireSafe Montana. For more information, contact Mike West, Flathead National Forest at 758-3939, or Ali Ulwelling, MT DNRC at 751-2270.