Thursday, August 18, 2022

Weasel Fire grows to more than 2,000 acres

The Western News | August 5, 2022 7:00 AM

The Weasel Fire blew up Thursday and went from about 200 acres to more than 2,200 as of Friday afternoon as winds from the Southwest drove it into the Flathead National Forest and Canada.

According to Kootenai National Forest officials, the fire made an extended run northeast toward Frozen Lake. The fire continues to burn in heavy dense fuels in difficult terrain.

The Kootenai and Flathead National Forests and Canadian Fire Managers are coordinating suppression efforts.

Fire managers' plans are to continue providing for firefighter and public safety as well as protecting the Weasel Cabin, Wam Lookout, and other natural resources.

The lightning-caused fire, located about 14 miles northeast of Eureka in the Ten Lakes Scenic Area, was detected Saturday, July 30, near the Weasel Cabin turnoff. The historic Weasel Cabin was built in 1943. Forest Service officials said the cabin was wrapped on Tuesday for protection.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the fire is experiencing extreme crowning, long-range spotting and wind driven runs.

The fire is burning in steep terrain in sub alpine fir and spruce with a substantial amount of blowdown and snags.

A Type 3 team from Libby took over the fire on Monday.

Grave Creek Road (Forest Service Road 319) remains closed from Foundation Creek Trailhead north to the end of FS Road 319. Big and Little Therriault campgrounds are closed.

Fire officials are asking people to avoid the area. For those who must travel up Grave Creek Road, they are asked to drive slowly and watch for fire personnel in the area. Because it is an emerging incident conditions and closures could change.

Seventy-five personnel are battling the fire along with bulldozers, a water tender and a helicopter primarily being used for bucket drops.

Kootenai National Forest officials raised the fire danger level to very high on Monday morning with hot temperatures, low relative humidity and extended time without measurable precipitation.

When the fire danger is "very high,” fires will start easily from most causes. The fires will spread rapidly and have a quick increase in intensity, right after ignition. Small fires can quickly become large fires and exhibit extreme fire intensity, such as long-distance spotting and fire whirls. These fires can be difficult to control and will often become much larger and longer-lasting fires.

Temperatures have cooled a bit since midweek, but according to the National Weather Service, are forecast to rise in Eureka area this weekend with daytime highs in the mid 80s to lower 90s with nighttime lows around 50 degrees.

A backdoor cold front will shift those winds to the east during the afternoon. The gradient overnight Friday will keep the wind speed fairly constant through Saturday morning, when winds will initially slacken then shift back to the Southwest

By Monday, temperatures are forecast to be back in the mid to upper 90s.

For more information, contact the Ksanka Ranger District at 406-296-2536.