Sunday, September 26, 2021
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Public meeting Saturday for Hay Creek Fire near Polebridge

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Daily Inter Lake | July 23, 2021 10:53 AM

Firefighters continued their battle with two wildland fires that began this week in Flathead County.

The Hay Creek Fire is listed at 250 acres 5 miles west of Polebridge. There has been no containment, according to U.S. Forest Service fire officials. The blaze began Wednesday and while the cause is unknown, lightning strikes occurred in the area during Tuesday’s thunderstorms.

A Type 3 Incident Management Team took over the fire Friday morning and a community meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Sondreson Community Hall parking lot.

Pre-evacuation notices were given for 20 structures in the area.

A number of closures are also in effect for the area as well as roads and trails on the Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District on the Flathead National Forest.

Road closures include:

• Forest Service Road 115, also known as Red Meadow Road, from its intersection with the North Fork Road to its junction with Forest Service Road 589;

• Forest Service Road 376, also known as Hay Creek Road, from its junction with Forest Service Road 909 to its end to the west;

• Forest Service Road 5241.

Trail closures include:

• Trail 3, the Hay Creek Trail (Part of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail);

• Trail 26, the Whitefish Divide (Part of the Ralph Thayer National Recreation Trail) from its end with Forest Service Road 115 to its junction with trail 14;

• Trail 14, the Coal Ridge Trail from its end with Trail 26 to its junction with Trail 2.

• Trail # 2 Moran Creek.

Violations may result in fines from $5,000 to $10,000 and a jail term of up to six months.

Officials are asking travelers in the North Fork to slow down, maintain safe distance in dusty or smoky conditions with low visibility, and to watch for and respect one another and fire traffic.

Fire crews reported active fire behavior Thursday night. Due to safety concerns associated with steep terrain, thick timber, and current fuel conditions, fire managers are using indirect tactics.

On Friday, firefighters planned to continue brushing out roads and improving fuel breaks on the Hay Creek, Red Meadow, and Spruce Creek roads, as assessing the need for future structure protection.

For more information, call the Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District office at 406-387-3818.

STATE FIRE officials are reporting the Boorman Creek Fire is 50% contained and full containment is expected later on Friday.

The lightning-caused blaze was reported at about 12:45 p.m. Thursday and is still listed at 3.7 acres. It is located southwest of Ashley Lake, just above Conrad Ranch Road and had burned within 1 mile of the now-closed Summit Preparatory School.

Fire crews from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and Smith Valley Fire Department used seven engines, a bulldozer, a helicopter and a single engine air tanker on the fire.

Crews worked late into the night and were able to establish a dozer line around the fire and stop its forward spread.

Officials said crews will remain on the scene for the next several days, patrolling the fire. Some smoke may still be visible from tree stumps for the next few days.

People are asked to avoid the fire area to allow the firefighters to do their job.

The forest is currently in Stage I fire restrictions and will go to Stage II on Monday.

Stage II restrictions mean all campfires will be strictly prohibited. Smoking will not be allowed except within enclosed vehicles or buildings, at developed recreation sites, or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is cleared of debris. Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails also will be prohibited.

The weather continues to be hot and dry with the potential for gusty winds. For the fire weather forecast go to Northern Rockies Coordination Center https://www.weather.gov/wrh/fire?wfo=mso.

For detailed information about smoke and air quality, visit: http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/.

Reporter Scott Shindledecker may be reached at 406-758-4441 or sshindledecker@dailyinterlake.com.