Sunday, September 19, 2021

Evacuation warning area expanded for Hay Creek Fire

by Daily Inter Lake
| July 25, 2021 3:00 PM

Officials expanded the evacuation warning area for a wildfire that continues to spread on the Flathead Forest just west of Polebridge.

The Hay Creek Fire grew to an estimated 1,158 acres on Sunday. Calmer winds helped the firefighting effort on Saturday as the blaze backed down to Hay Creek Road. Two helicopters dropped water to help control fire spread, including on a new spot fire.

The evacuation warning area now includes Moose Creek Road, Red Meadow Road, all residents on both sides of the North Fork Road between Moose Creek Road and Home Ranch Bottoms, Polebridge Loop 655, 700, 720, and 740 Polebridge Drive.

The community of Polebridge, residents of Glacier Drive, and the remainder of residents not previously identified for Polebridge Loop are not in the warning area.

While the fire is not in Glacier National Park, it could affect visitors, park officials warned Sunday. Backcountry permits are no longer being issued for areas north of Polebridge as a precautionary measure in case the blaze expands into that area. The area remains open for day-use and frontcountry camping.

STAGE 2 fire restrictions begin Monday for all of Northwest Montana, including the Flathead Forest and Glacier National Park. Campfires are not allowed under Stage 2 rules and off-road travel is limited.

Most of western Montana is experiencing extreme fire danger and is in Stage 2 fire restrictions.

Air quality deteriorated to unhealthy levels Sunday in the Flathead Valley. Montana’s air quality is being impacted by smoke from the Bootleg Fire in Oregon and the Dixie Fire in California. Smoke plumes from those massive fires are visible as far away as southwestern Montana. Northwestern Montana is experiencing smoke impacts partially from fires in British Columbia.

High pressure building into the region will keep conditions very warm and dry on Monday, the National Weather Service in Missoula warned. Thunderstorms are possible beginning Tuesday for Northwest Montana.