Fire Map

By | August 15, 2018

Updated: Aug. 15 at 11:30AM

The Wildfire Map now shows more activity for Coal Ridge. The Howe fire at Lake McDonald might be picking up as well. The Whale Buttes fire doesn’t show up.

Fire Map

Howe Ridge Update on Aug. 15 at 9AM

By | August 15, 2018

From Inciweb – Howe Ridge fire sending up a column

From Inciweb…. Fire behavior increased yesterday yet there was minimal fire growth under smoky skies. The fire is estimated at 2,600 acres. Visibility hampered the CL-215 “Super scoopers” from working on the fire, however the Type I helicopter effectively cooled spot fires slowing the fire’s growth. Ground crews utilized existing trails to create fire breaks, continued to pump water for sprinklers for structure protection, and cooled hot spots at the residences on North Lake McDonald Road. Structure protection continued at remaining buildings at Kelly’s Camp. Fire behavior is expected to be more active today with increased winds and the potential of smoke lifting earlier in the day. The aircraft will extinguish spot fires and cool the head of the fire towards Stanton Mountain. Structure protection is the priority for ground crews and firefighters will continue to mop up hot spots along the North Lake McDonald road. Growth is expected on all sides of the fire today. Terrain, vegetation type, and the potential of falling large trees prevent the ground crews from constructing direct fire line safely. Crews heard gunfire-like sounds of snags crashing down throughout the night. Existing trails and water sources aid fire line construction and fire control. A Type I team from the Southwest has arrived for an in-briefing today and will assume control of the fire later in the week. Apgar area residents are reminded of Ready, Set, Go! This wildfire ready program helps residents be Ready with preparedness understanding, be Set with situational awareness when fire threatens, and to Go, acting early when a fire starts. The Apgar area was put in the “Ready” status, which entails creating defensible space around structures, assembling emergency supplies and belongings in a safe place, and planning escape routes, and make sure all residents in a home know the plan. Area closures and evacuations remain in place:

· Avalanche Campground and Sprague Campground

· North Lake McDonald Road (private residences and the Lake McDonald Ranger Station)

· Lake McDonald Lodge Complex (all businesses, employees, and private residences)

· Private residences along the Going-to-the-Sun Road

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed between the foot of Lake McDonald (near Apgar) and Logan Pass. The road remains open between St. Mary and Logan Pass. Apgar Village, Apgar Campground and Fish Creek campground remain open. Most other areas of the park are open as well. The Inside North Fork road is closed and multiple trail closures are associated with this fire, including The Loop trail. Please see full trail closures on the park’s website The park has established a Fire Information Line with updated recorded information: 406-888-7077. The latest Howe Ridge information and photos can be found on Inciweb. Glacier National Park is under Stage II Fire Restrictions. No campfires will be permitted in the frontcountry or backcountry. Smoking is also prohibited except within an enclosed building, vehicle, developed recreation area, or barren area three feet in diameter. Propane stoves that have an on/off switch are permitted.

North Fork Wolf Report – Aug. 13, 2018

By | August 15, 2018

Wolf in the yard by Mark Heaphy

Following is a report from Diane Boyd, Wolf and Carnivore Specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks…

The North Fork is home to four wolf packs this year: Whale Creek, Kintla, Akokala, and Dutch.  I am relying more and more on trail cameras and local reports to keep track of our wolves in northwestern Montana.  The goal of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, is to monitor as many packs as is feasible in Region 1 (NW MT) through the use the of Patch Occupancy Modeling (POM), trail cameras, local reports, agency reports, and a few radiocollars. We hope to reduce the number of radiocollars we put out on wolves and rely more on POM and citizen science to monitor wolves in this area.  If you see, hear, or photograph wolves in the North Fork (or anywhere else in Montana for that matter) I’d greatly appreciate hearing from you.  For more information on POM, please read the article in March-April issue of Montana Outdoors magazine (pg 36-39).

Here is an update of what I know about our wolf packs as of mid-August, 2018:

The Whale Creek Packspends all of its time west of the North Fork River, threading its way through private land and Forest Service land from Trail Creek to Red Meadow Creek.  The alpha male in this pack is wearing an active GPS collar but I have little information about how many wolves are in the pack, and how many pups they had this year.  Localized movements indicate they did indeed den and produce pups but no one has yet seen them. Last year this same pack was seen and photographed by many residents in the Whale Creek and Moose Creek areas, delivering great information on this pack.  Local residents are the best source of information on our ‘neighborhood pack’, and I’m grateful for any information or photos you can send my way. Continue reading

Day Two at Cyclone Lookout, August 11, 2018

By | August 15, 2018

Debo on Cyclone Lookout | photo from Will Urbanski's drone

The Lookout seemed to be floating in a grey soup this morning when I opened my eyes. I could see nothing beyond the clearing around the Lookout except for the vague outline of Coal Ridge to the west and Winona Ridge to the south. There was no river, no valley, no mountains, just an impenetrable barrier of smoke that not even the rising sun could break through.

Never before have I slept in a Lookout without a blanket or sleeping bag for warmth. Last night, I needed nothing although toward morning I pulled up a sheet to cover myself for the coolest hours. It was 80 degrees in the Lookout at midnight and 75 in the morning. I remembered frigid mornings of the past and shivering while starting a fire in the wood stove and hovering over it with a hot cup of tea.

Refrigerator tools | photo by Debo Powers

After breakfast, I worked on the refrigerator again. Although I got it started many times, the flame went out as soon as I let go of the primer. While hugging the refrigerator, raindrops on the roof startled me. It was too smoky to see any clouds. The rain lasted less than a minute, but it cleared the air enough to see scattered cirrus clouds overhead. The valley and mountains were still obscured by smoke, but the sun broke through the bathed the Lookout in light and heat. Continue reading

Howe Ridge Fire Update, August 14 11 AM

By | August 15, 2018

Howe Ridge Fire Update from Inciweb

Fire behavior moderated on Monday more favorable weather conditions. Crews on the ground, supported by aerial resources worked to limit the spread of the fire to the north. Crews worked throughout the night Monday to suppress spot fires.

The fire is estimated at 2,500 acres. The weather forecast for the fire area is calm today but conditions remain hot and dry. Today, firefighters will continue to suppress spot fires along the north end of Lake McDonald. CL-215 “Superscoopers” and a K-Max helicopter will again be used to drop water, focusing on the north and southwest edges of the fire. Continue reading

Coal Ridge Fire Summary from Inciweb – Aug. 14

By | August 15, 2018

In case you missed it, here is the summary from Inciweb on Aug. 14.

FIRE SUMMARY: The Coal Ridge Fire is burning in the Flathead National Forest. This fire is being managed with modified confine and contain tactics, with fire fighter and public safety as a priority. The fire is burning in steep terrain with subalpine forest and brushy avalanche chutes. There are no evacuation warnings in place on this incident. Any warning notices or evacuations will be coordinated with the Flathead Office of Emergency Services.

CURRENT SITUATION: Following lightning storms across the Flathead National Forest evening of August 11, the Coal Ridge Fire was detected the next morning. A Type 3 fire management team is assigned to the fire. Cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity yesterday led to minimal fire behavior with limited growth. As a pre-emptive defense measure, the Coal Ridge Patrol Cabin was wrapped yesterday evening. Continue reading