KALISPELL – A pair of wildfires burning in northwest Montana continue to grow.
Fire managers reported that the largest blaze, the Lazier Creek 3 Fire, has been mapped at over 1,300 acres burned while the Rogers Mountain fire has burned 75 acres.
The Lazier Creek 3 Fire is burning south of U.S. Highway 2 and west of the Thompson River Road. Crews are working to hold and improve firelines as well as building new firelines on the north and east portions of the fire. Numerous structures are threatened and the Bend Guard Station and nearby structures area are currently evacuated.
Crews are hoping to make the most of this cool weather so they can to gain ground on the blaze.
“Our hope is that we can get a handle on a couple of these fires before the weather does change because that hot dry weather is really going to change things quickly,” said Northern Rockies Incident Commander John Thompson. “So we’re trying to look at the critical pieces of each fire and try to get those pieces what we would call buttoned in or tucked in so they’re not a problem when the weather does change.”
An incident command post has been set up at the Marion School. Thompson said with scattered fires in remote areas across the region there are also a number of spot camps set up.
At the Bend Guard Station located about 200 yards from the ridge where the Lazier Creek 3 Fire grew to 1,300 acres overnight, there are about 60 firefighters stationed. Three helicopters are attacking the fire from the air.
Jackson Brittner from Missoula is part of the Type Two Team. He said his biggest fear as they battle the fire is the changing winds.
“If the wind switches in the Valley or something like that it can turn the fire backwards and chase you out of there real quick,” Brittner said. “We could be sitting right here and the wind could swirl and it could come over the ridge top and run through camp and we’d all have to evacuate and leave all our stuff here.”
Some campers and cabins were evacuated Monday night.
Meanwhile, pre-evacuation notices are still in effect for the Rogers Mountain Fire burning near Happy’s Inn in Flathead County. New information on Tuesday revealed the fire has now torched 75 acres.
The Rogers Mountain Fire is located north of Loon Lake on Highway 2 and west of the North ACM Road. Heavy equipment and crews continue to construct direct line and improve anchor points on the perimeter of the fire.
Pre-evacuation notices were given to residents north of Highway 2 and Loon Lake near Rogers Mountain Sunday.
Fire resources are also dedicating efforts to a couple smaller fires in Northwest Montana that were sparked from lightning Friday.
The Grubb Fire has burned about 16 acres so far. It’s located about 15 miles North of Happy’s Inn and East of Island Lake. The Northwest Meadow Peak Fire remains at 11.5 acres northeast of Happy’s Inn.
A Type II Incident Management Team has taken over fighting a total of four blazes in the area and 85 personnel were on the scene as of Tuesday afternoon.