Glacier National Park

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 28, 2015

Aug 28, 2015
A view of the Little Joe Fire from Thursday, August 27, 2015.

Stage 2 fire restrictions went into effect in the Missoula area today. The restrictions apply to public and private lands in Missoula, Mineral, Sanders, Granite and Ravalli counties, including the Lolo and Bitterroot National Forests, BLM and state lands.

The Billings Chinook Type-1 Helicopter drops fire retardant from the mobile retardant base onto the Sheep Fire, part of the Thompson-Divide Complex, burning near Highway 2 about 2 miles south of Essex, MT, Aug. 20, 2015.
Jonathan Moor/Inciweb

A mandatory evacuation of Essex and the surrounding area was ordered at about 2:45 this afternoon by the Flathead County Sheriff. Fire Information Officer Sonja Hartmann says the Sheep Fire burning just south of Highway 2 near Glacier National Park moved within a half mile of the town.

The Marston Fire on the Kootenai National Forest

NOTE: We'll add information to this update today as it becomes available.

In general fires in northwestern Montana are being held in check by the thick layer of smoke over the area.

Walter McClintock, photographer / Yale Collection of Western Americana

Most Montanans have been to Glacier National Park, although few of us know about what went on in that landscape before 1910, the year the Park was created. But now, thanks to a new book published by the Montana Historical Society Press, we have stories about the people who lived there.

Peggy Miller, InciWeb

For the latest air quality information for Montana, click on this link to the state Department of Environmental Quality's wildfire smoke updates page.

The Sheep Fire continues to threaten Essex. It is burning about a mile south of Essex at this time.

An update from the Forest Service this morning says:

 Sikorsky Sky Crane Type-1 Helicopter drops fire retardant on the Thompson-Divide Complex’s Sheep Fire burning west of Highway 2 between Mile Markers 182 and 181 about 1 mile south of Essex, MT, Aug. 22, 2015.
Jonathan Moor/Inciweb

The thick blanket of wildfire smoke over western Montana is a proving a blessing and a curse for firefighters in the state. The hazy conditions can rob fires of the oxygen they need to grow, but at the same time prevent aircraft from being able to drop water and fire retardant.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 21, 2015

Aug 21, 2015
Firefighter planning meeting on the Scotchman's Gulch Fire.

It was another active fire week in western Montana. Fires forced evacuations in Sanders County, closed part of Highway 2, and put the town of Essex on alert. Nowhere in western Montana escaped the choking smoke produced by dozens of fires burning in the state and in neighboring Idaho and Washington.

In preparation for possible evacuation in Essex, Larry and Callie Epstein say they packed only what they couldn’t replace into their 12 foot trailer.
Corin Cates-Carney

MTPR reporter Corin Cates-Carney is in Essex. He says the smoke is so thick there that it’s setting off smoke detectors inside some houses.

The fire threatening the Essex area just south of Glacier National Park grew today, and caused the closure of a 7-mile section of U.S. Highway 2 north of Essex, as well as the adjacent BNSF railroad tracks.

Residents of Essex and surrounding communities are advised to prepare for possible evacuation as the Sheep Fire burns a couple miles south of town.
Jonathan Moor/Inciweb

Some residents near Noxon have been ordered to evacuate due to wildfire, and an evacuation warning is in effect for Essex.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 18, 2015

Aug 18, 2015
The Bear Creek Fire burning along Spotted Bear River Road, August 14, 2015.

A roundup of the biggest fires burning in western Montana August 18, 2015.

Stage 2 Fire restrictions go into effect across northwestern Montana Thursday at 1:00 a.m.
Josh Burnham

Greater restrictions on burning will go into effect later this week as fire danger increases in Northwest Montana. The Stage 2 fire restrictions will go into effect all across northwest Montana at 1:00 a.m. Thursday.

The Scotty Brown Fire, seen on August 11, 2015.

A Type-II incident management team has taken over command on the Thompson Fire burning in Glacier National Park about 15 miles east of the the West Glacier entrance. The fire started August 9, and has already burned an estimated 14,900 acres as of Thursday morning. The Thompson fire is 0 percent contained at this time.

Glacier Park's habitat has been shaped by fires like the Thompson Fire, seen here Tuesday, August 11, 2015.
Courtesy Tony Bynum Photography

The Thompson Fire in southwest Glacier National Park only started Sunday, but quickly blew up to eclipse the other big fire that’s been burning in the park since July 21. Flathead Reporter Corin Cates-Carney reports on fire’s role in creating the habitat in Glacier National Park.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 12, 2015

Aug 12, 2015
The Sucker Creek Fire seen on August, 11, 2015.

The full length of Going to the Sun road is now open at night. Glacier National Park today said that the night closure on the east side of the road has been lifted, but urged visitors to be careful as firefighters and equipment are still using the road.

A photo of the Thompson Creek Fire taken around 3:00 p.m. from Hwy 49, aka Looking Glass Road out of East Glacier.
Courtesy Tony Bynum Photography

People from Kalispell to East Glacier are reporting a huge smoke plume this afternoon from the Thompson Creek fire inside Glacier National Park.

The fire was first reported Sunday, and quickly grew to 1,900 acres. Now, the Park Service is saying the Thompson Fire has nearly tripled in size to an estimated 5,500 acres.

The Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier National Park has subsided enough to allow the limited re-opening of the east side of Going-to-the-Sun-Road. The 18-mile stretch of road has been closed for about two and a half weeks.

Tourists at the Apgar Visitor Center
GlacierNPS (CC-BY-2)

Fire managers in Glacier National Park say the fire burning there neither grew yesterday, nor did the amount of fire line constructed around it. The fire remains estimated at just under 4,000 acres in size and 67 percent contained.

Showing activity in the Rose Creek Drainage on the Reynolds Creek Fire.
Courtesy Inciweb

Fire managers in Glacier National Park are now feeling more confident in perimeter fire lines, allowing them to shift crews to removing hazards near Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The Park Service today said, "there is an expectation [Going-to-the-Sun Road] will reopen sometime during this summer season."

The Beavertail Hill Fire started next to I-90, and burned uphill before being contained.
Courtesy Montana DNRC

The Reynolds Creek Fire burning six miles east of Logan Pass is 67 percent contained and burning just under 4,000 acres. The fire grew slightly on Saturday due to high winds but its growth was smothered Sunday with heavy smoke.

Pockets of unburned fuel in the interior of the Reynolds Creek fire burned actively Friday, July 31.

It’s been an active day on the fire burning on the east side of Glacier National Park. There’s been significant smoke in the area this afternoon. Fire information officer Shauna Hartman explains why.

Fire officials now believe that the Reynolds Creek Fire was human-caused.
Corin Cates-Carney

Authorities now believe that the fire burning in Glacier National Park was human-caused, and the National Park Service is turning to the public for help.

Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa)
Matt Lavin (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

The story of noxious weeds is the classic love story gone wrong. You see that beautiful so-and-so across the room, you hang out for a while, decide to move in together. But then you realize they’ve taken over your home, replaced your favorite stuff with useless junk and now you can’t seem to break up.

Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-sun Road is set to open from the west entrance to Logan Pass.
Glacier National Park (CC-BY-2)

Glacier National Park officials say they’ll open more of the Going to the Sun Road from the west side Wednesday, over the top of Logan Pass.

Fire officials say the Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier National Park is now 30 percent contained.
Jennifer McKee

Updates on wildfires burning in and around western Montana.

Map of Solenex Lease site in the Badger-Two Medicine near Glacier National Park
Courtesy Montana Wilderness Association

A federal judge has given Interior Secretary Sally Jewell three weeks to take action on a Louisiana company’s natural gas leases near Glacier National Park that have been held up for 29 years.

Smoke over St. Mary Lake, July 26, 2015.

Glacier National Park’s St. Mary Visitor Center reopens this morning.

Fire officials say the Reynolds Creek Fire now stands at  over 3,200 acres with 30 percent containment.

The Reynolds Creek Fire seen shortly after it was discovered on July 21, 2015.

Updates on wildfires burning in and around western Montana.

No smoke is visible from the Apgar Lookout webcam on the west side of Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park

As news of the fire on the east side of Glacier National Park spreads, some visitors there are packing their bags and heading west, taking their tourism dollars with them.

Before the fire, the Park was on pace to pass last year’s record setting attendance number of 2.3 million.

Corin Cates-Carney

There's a red flag fire weather warning in effect for the third day in a row for the east side of Glacier National Park today where the Reynolds Creek Fire continues to burn out of control.

Fire officials now believe that the Reynolds Creek Fire was human-caused.
Corin Cates-Carney

Lindsay Pilon and Kayla Stephens were among those evacuated from northeast Glacier Tuesday when the Reynolds Creek fire began burning through what is now estimated at 4,000 acres of dry timber.

The two young women live and work in West Glacier and were leading family friends on an overnight trip.