Fire behavior was minimal yesterday thanks to precipitation received on Monday. The fire continues to smolder through surface fuels along the perimeter of the fire, but is moving slowly. If appropriate conditions develop today, firefighters may use a combination of aerial and hand lit ignitions to secure the southwest corner of the fire. Firefighters are utilizing heavy equipment to improve existing roads to be used as fuel breaks. They are also 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. As fire behavior and safety concerns allow, firefighters are scouting control line locations that may be closer to the fire’s edge than current contingency lines. A temporary spike camp for firefighting resources will be established at the Wurtz Airstrip – expect to see more fire traffic in the area.
Warmer, drier air continues to move in following the brief rains Monday. As a low pressure system approaches over the next couple days, there will be an increase in southwesterly winds. These gusty winds may have an impact on fire behavior, especially higher up on the ridgetops.
This lightning caused fire ignited on 8/11/18 and was detected at noon on 8/12/18. It is burning in the Flathead National Forest on steep terrain, in even-aged timber with moderate to heavy dead and downed fuels and thick brush. The fire is being managed with modified confine and contain tactics. Maintaining firefighter and public safety is the main priority.
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 8/17/18. The evacuation warning is being coordinated by the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services. For more information 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.
Road Maintenance: 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 on the road. At this time, blades and water tenders are being used to perform grading work on the Canyon Creek to Camas Bridge stretch, and blades and 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.
A temporary flight restriction is in effect for both of these fires.
Smoke monitoring information is available at: http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/
If smoke or flames are visible outside the fire area call 9-1-1.
For additional Coal Ridge Fire and Whale Butte Fire information call: 406-578-8256