Montana’s Flathead National Forest faced a devastating bout of wildfires, with a total of 17 reported fires breaking out following a dry lightning storm that struck overnight on July 29 and into July 30, as confirmed by forest officials.
Distressing videos shared by Twitter user @snugs4911 depicted thick smoke billowing from a fire near Lion Lake, the incident initially reported on the morning of July 31.
The Flathead National Forest reported that the fire was one of nine incidents within the Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District, and authorities successfully contained it by Tuesday.
In another concerning development, the Kah Mountain and Bruce fires, situated in the Spotted Bear Ranger District, merged with two smaller fire starts, collectively referred to as the Tin Soldier Complex. As of the latest update on Thursday morning, these combined fires have ravaged an extensive 2,061 acres.
The Ridge Fire, which continues to spread, grew to a substantial 633 acres by Thursday, with no containment achieved as yet.
Acknowledging the dire situation, the Forest Service declared that Stage 2 Fire Restrictions are set to be enforced from August 5 across northwestern Montana, encompassing the Flathead National Forest, Kootenai National Forest, and Glacier National Park.
In an official statement, forest officials expressed grave concern, stating, “Northwest Montana is currently in Extreme Fire Danger and experiencing drought conditions contributing to extremely dry forest fuels.”
Under the Stage 2 restrictions, all campfires are prohibited, as well as outdoor smoking except in cleared or built areas. Furthermore, between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m., the operation of internal combustion engines and motor vehicles off designated roads and trails are strictly forbidden.
The authorities and firefighting teams are working tirelessly to combat the wildfires and protect the precious landscapes and communities in the affected regions.