Whale Butte Fire Update 9-8-18 from Inciweb

By | September 8, 2018

Saturday, September 8, 2018; 8:30 am
Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1
Mike Goicoechea, Incident Commander

Fire Information: 406-578-8256, 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
Email: 2018.PaolaRidge.WhaleButte.CoalRidge.Fires@firenet.gov
Website: Whale: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6149
Flathead National Forest Facebook: www.facebook.com/discovertheflathead
Twitter: @FlatheadNF

Special Notes: PLEASE DO NOT STOP ALONG HWY 2 TO OBSERVE SMOKE FROM THE PAOLA RIDGE FIRE.Fire crews are actively working in this area. Congestion along Hwy 2 may prevent crews from working safely and efficiently.

Weather: Skies should be partly to mostly cloudy with some clearing possible in the afternoon. A cold front moved in today, with temperatures in the mid-60s to mid-70s in the valleys and mid-50s to mid- 60s on the ridges. This front brings a 25% chance of showers and a 20% chance of dry thunderstorms. Chances of showers are more likely near Whale Butte, and the front will begin to dry out as it moves east toward the Paola Ridge Fire. Relative humidity levels will be higher, with lows of 30%. Winds will increase from the southwest, and gusts of up to 30-35 mph are possible, especially on the ridgetops. Strong wind could contribute to increased fire behavior. Cooler, slightly moister conditions are forecasted to continue into next week.

Whale Butte: The Whale Butte Fire remains in a condition that warrants mostly patrol and monitoring. No significant growth is expected at this time. One local engine remains at the Whale Butte Fire to patrol and remain prepared for initial attack. Unneeded equipment is being backhauled from this area as conditions warrant. Fire activity remains minimal. Any hotspots within the perimeter will continue to burn themselves out. Heavy equipment will be removing slash and debris along the Spruce Creek Road for several more days.

The Whale Butte Fire is managed with operational objectives of 50% “Full Suppression” in areas safe for firefighter access and 50% “Confined” (restricting the fire to a defined area, primarily using natural barriers) for a total of 100%. These operational objectives are 85% complete.

Whale Butte Statistics

Location: 10 mi. NW of Polebridge, MT
Start date: August 12, 2018
Size: 515 ac.
Completion: 85%
Cause: Lightning
Injuries: 1
Estimated cost $2.1 Million


Crews: 1
Engines: 2
Skidders: 5
Personnel: 61


Crews are prepared to take initial attack actions on any newly detected fires as needed.

Evacuations: Flathead County Sheriff issued an evacuation warning for a small number of residents near Essex, effective at 12:00 noon on August 15, 2018. For more information go to https://www.flathead.mt.gov/oes or follow @FlatheadOES on Twitter and Facebook. No evacuation warnings are in place for the Whale Butte Fire.

Closures: Closure Orders are in effect on Flathead National Forest within the vicinity of the Paola Ridge and Whale Butte fires. Closure areas were reduced on September 5th, but there are still closures in place. Red Meadow Lake Campground is OPEN. For specific information, please see the Flathead National Forest website below or the “closure” section on the fire InciWeb pages as listed above. https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/flathead/alerts-notices

No fire restrictions are currently in place on Flathead National Forest. Remember to use caution with fire while enjoying your public lands. One less spark, one less fire.

Aircraft Assigned: All aircraft are shared among the fires within Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest being managed by Mike Goicoechea’s Northern Rockies Type 1 Incident Management Team. Two Type 1 and three Type 3 Helicopters are currently assigned to the incident.

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place over the Paola Ridge Fire area. If you fly a drone over a fire, air operations could be suspended. If you fly, we can’t.

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About NFNews Editor

Patti Hart is the editor-in-chief and founder of the NFNews.net. Patti lives on the North Fork during the summers and travels the world for the rest of the year, updating NFNews every day wherever there is an internet connection.

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