Whale Butte Fire – This lightning caused fire was also ignited on August 11 and is located in the Flathead National Forest. Due to improved smoke conditions yesterday, fire managers were able to take an aerial recon flight over the area. The fire area received some precipitation yesterday that helped temporarily slow fire progression. This type of rain event effects primarily light fuels, such as grass, and only slightly effects heavy fuels, such as the dead and downed timber that is primarily carrying this fire. For that reason, fire activity may increase as the area dries out again over the next two days following the brief rains. The fire continues to slowly back through surface fuels around the entire fire perimeter. Today, firefighters will continue to utilize heavy equipment to improve existing roads to be used as fuel breaks. They will also continue improving the fuel breaks along Whale Creek-Moose Creek Road #1671. Contingency lines are being established along the North Fork corridor and structure protection preparation remains a primary objective.
With the increased fire related traffic on the North Fork Road, the fire management team has coordinated with the Flathead County Roads Department to do maintenance work to the road. At this time, two blades and two water tenders are being used to perform grading work on the Canyon Creek to Camas Bridge stretch, and two blades and two water tenders are working northbound from the Camas Bridge. Mag-chloride applications will follow to help abate dust. The maintenance work will continue up to the Teepee Creek Bridge. For any questions, please contact the Flathead County Roads Department at 406-758-5790.
As the current weather system continues to move through the area, dryer air will replace the recent moisture. The next few days will bring warmer temperatures and lower relative humidities. Small, isolated low pressure systems will move through the area over the next five days, bringing gusty ridgetop winds that may influence fire growth.If smoke or flames are visible outside the fire area call 9-1-1.
Evacuations: The Flathead County Sheriff’s office has issued an evacuation warning for a small number of residences in the area between Moose Creek Road and Whale Creek Road effective at 12:30pm on August 17, 2018. The evacuation warning is being coordinated by the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services. For more information go to www.flathead.mt.gov/oes or follow @FlatheadOES on Twitter and Facebook.
The National Park Service has issued an evacuation warning for landowners and visitors for all park areas north of the junction of Bowman Lake Road and the Inside North Fork Road. The warning is due to Whale Butte Fire activity, currently burning on Flathead National Forest land adjacent to the park boundary.
No new backcountry overnight permit itineraries will be issued for parties entering or exiting at the Kintla trailhead. Day use trails and the Kintla Lake Campground remain open at this time.
Forest Closures: There are area/road/trail closures in place for this fire and other fires on the Flathead National Forest due to fire activity. Check the Inciweb page at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6149/ or the Flathead National Forest website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/flathead/alerts-notices for details.
Fire Restrictions: Flathead National Forest, except the Great Bear and the Bob Marshall Wilderness areas, have implemented Stage II Fire Restrictions. No campfires are permitted. Smoking is also prohibited except within an enclosed building or vehicle, developed recreation area, or barren area three feet in diameter. Propane stoves that have an on/off switch are permitted.
A temporary flight restriction is in effect for the Whale Butte Fire.
Smoke monitoring information is available at: http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/
For additional Whale Butte Fire information call: 406-578-8256