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Northwest Montana wildfire roundup

| August 1, 2023 7:00 AM

A heavy aerial and ground attack kept a wildfire near homes on the north end of Whitefish Lake in check over the weekend.

Fire managers with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation said the human-caused fire was sparked by equipment in a dry hayfield north of Delrey Road and spread into forested areas of the Stillwater State Forest.

The North Lake Fire had burned 5 total acres, but spot fires encompassed a 17-acre perimeter. It was 80% contained on Monday. Containment line was established around spot fires and crews continue to mop up.

It was first detected and reported by the Warner Peak Lookout.

Aerial support was dispatched Saturday at 1 p.m., and included Type 1, 2 and 3 helicopters. Five engines, two water tenders, a hand crew and hotshot crew also assisted.

Fire managers said the main fire was knocked down Saturday, but numerous spot fires were reported and monitored.

Structures and homes are within the vicinity of the fire, but no evacuations were issued.

An emergency shelter for people displaced by wildfires burning in Flathead County opened Sunday night in Kalispell.

Flathead County requested assistance from the American Red Cross to operate the shelter at Canvas Church, 255 Summit Ridge Drive, Kalispell.

Multiple wildfires are active across northwest Montana. The largest in Flathead County is the Niarada Fire west of Elmo. It was estimated at 1,000 acres Monday morning.

Mission Valley fires

At least three new fires were sparked in the Mission Valley on Sunday following the passage of a dry lightning storm.

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes fire managers said Montana 28 was closed Sunday afternoon after the Niarada Fire jumped the highway. The blaze was estimated at 200 acres Sunday evening, about 11 miles west of Elmo. Commuters were advised of long delays on the highway.

Eighteen smokejumpers were managing the fire that was burning in steep terrain. Four single-engine air tankers, one helicopter for air support, three fire boss single-engine air tankers also responded.

Meanwhile, the Middle Ridge Fire southwest of Sloan’s Bridge was estimated at 500 acres. It was burning in grass and timber in steep terrain.

North of Dixon, the Communication Butte Fire was sized at 255 acres. Twenty firefighters had responded. The Bison Range was closed due to the fire.

CSKT fire managers said no structures were threatened by any of the fires.

Numerous other small fires cropped up Sunday in Lake and Flathead counties.

The Woodward Point and Porcupine Creek fires were detected in the Mission Mountains on the east side of Flathead Lake. Both were initially estimated at less than 2 acres in size.

Along Hungry Horse Reservoir, the Ridge Fire was sized at 5 acres and the Emery Fire was less than an acre. Farther down the reservoir, the Logan Creek and Elam fires were each less than an acre.

The Kah Mountain Fire in the Swan Mountains was 15 acres.

Colt Fire

The Colt Fire, burning northwest of Seeley Lake on the Flathead and Lolo National Forests, has grown to nearly 6,200 acres Monday.

It is listed as 8% contained.

The Lolo and Flathead National Forests have closed several forest roads, areas, and campgrounds near the fire area for public safety.