Afternoon Update – Multiple Fires in Park Following Storm
Fire personnel conducted a detection flight over the park midday today.
Three fires were confirmed following yesterday afternoon’s storm.
The Sprague Fire is currently estimated at 10 acres. A Type 1 and Type 2 helicopter are being used to drop water on this priority fire. Heli- rappel crews have been inserted to support fire suppression activities, and additional crews will be responding this afternoon.
The Rogers Fire is currently estimated at two acres, though little to no smoke was seen on the fire during the overflight.
A new start was detected near Howe Lake that is estimated at less than .1 acre.
Air resources working on the Sprague Fire will assist with the Rogers and Howe Lake fires as available. Additional field personnel will also assist from the ground. Helicopters dropped water on the Rogers Fire yesterday while also responding to the Vaught Fire.
No new fire activity was detected for the Vaught Fire or for previous smoke reports on Apgar Mountain or in the Nyack area, however there was low visibility in the Nyack area due to fog. Closures will remain in effect for all of these areas while the park continues to monitor conditions.
The response team will conduct another detection flight later this afternoon and will release an update with flight findings, overnight fire behavior, and an update on closures in the morning.
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…
This article from the New York Times most definitely does not serve as the starting point for an informed discussion on wildfire management. It does, however, highlight some interesting issues . . .
With long strides, Chad T. Hanson plunged into a burned-out forest, his boots kicking up powdery ash. Blackened, lifeless trees stretched toward an azure sky.
Dr. Hanson, an ecologist, could not have been more delighted. “Any day out here is a happy day for me, because this is where the wildlife is,” he said with a grin.
On cue, a pair of birds appeared, swooping through the air and alighting on dead trees to attack them like jackhammers. They were black-backed woodpeckers, adapted by millions of years of evolution to live in burned-out forests. They were hunting grubs to feed their chicks.
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.”
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.
Locally, the Coal Ridge Fire, a small, 0.2 acre blaze on the south face of Coal Ridge about 6 miles southwest of Polebridge, was declared out yesterday afternoon.
The Flathead Beacon has a good summary of other fires in the Flathead Valley . . .
The storm system that passed through the Flathead Valley earlier this week sparked several new wildfires on the Flathead National Forest in the Swan Lake Ranger District, the agency announced.
Smoke has been visible this week throughout the valley due to the Copper King Fire, which has burned 27,788 acres near Thompson Falls. More than 838 personnel are battling the blaze.
The Cold Lake fire is on the ridge just south of Lower Cold Lake and is approximately 10 acres in size, in sub-alpine fir, and has several small spot fires. There are seven smoke jumpers and a 21-person initial attack crew assigned to the fire. A Type 1 helicopter and a Type 3 helicopter were conducting bucket work to help suppression efforts.
Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines are not happy about the state of Forest Service funding for fighting wildfires and maintaining trails . . .
As the U.S. Forest Service prepares for the looming wildfire season, Montana’s senators are calling for reforms to the agency’s forest and trail management.
U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines questioned Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week during a Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing focused on the agency’s $4.8 billion budget request for the next fiscal year.
Tester and Daines criticized Tidwell for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency has revised its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, which encompasses all of Montana and has 28,000 miles of federally managed trails, the agency plans to reduce appropriations by 30 percent over the next three years. There is an estimated $25 million in deferred trail maintenance in Region One, according to a Forest Service report.
Here’s a timely news release by Bruce Auchly of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks discussing the effect — direct and indirect — of fire on animals . . .
Summer’s fires are over, right?
All that smoke-in-the-nose, ashes-in-mouth is past for the year. Or so we hope.
Yet even in the worst of it many of us had choices. Some folks left Montana, others sought relief in air conditioning at home or office or both.
Animals don’t have those luxuries. Yes, birds can fly and bears can burrow into a den, but fires in July and August happen at the wrong time for migration and hibernation.
First, let’s slay a rumor. The rash of bear conflicts, mostly black bears, this summer is not because smoke from forest fires was forcing bears out of their mountain redoubts and into towns. They are just farther afield this year looking for food.