Thompson Complex Fire Update for 8-22-15 9:00am
A cold front with thunderstorms and some rain late yesterday cleared the smoky conditions in the area. The rain had some slowing effect on the fires. However, all fires continue to burn and fuels are expected to dry out today as temperatures rise and light winds pick up. Temperatures are predicted to rise back into the 80s starting tomorrow, with a possibility of reaching the 90s by Wednesday. Air operations are expected to resume today. A Sky Crane Type-1 Helicopter, capable of carrying a water load equivalent in weight to an F-550 truck, is scheduled to arrive today. A mobile fire retardant base is being used for helicopter bucket drops.

The Thompson-Divide Complex’s Sheep Fire burns east of Highway 2 and south of McDonald Creek about 2 miles south of Essex, MT, Aug. 21, 2015. (photo Jonathan Moor-NPS)

The Sheep Fire is about 2.5 miles south of Essex in the Great Bear Wilderness of Flathead National Forest. It is now estimated at 428 acres, burning in very steep, difficult terrain with limited access.  The fire spread northeast toward the Middle Fork and was about ½ mile from US Hwy 2.

Highway 2 has re-opened between East Glacier and West Glacier, with pilot cars guiding traffic through the fire zone. We're told this is to keep traffic moving, because people were stopping to watch the fire!
Residents in the Highway 2 corridor around Essex have been advised to prepare for possible evacuation, but an evacuation has not been ordered at this time. The American Red Cross has made arrangements to open a shelter in West Glacier, if needed.

The Granite Fire is west of Marias Pass and south of Hwy. 2 in the Great Bear Wilderness. It is now 176 acres, burning in very steep terrain in a mixed conifer forest below a ridge. Crews have implemented structure protection measures on several backcountry cabins and trailhead structures and a wooden road bridge. Crews have been encountering numerous snags that need to be dealt with for safety before line construction. The Granite Creek Trail (#156) is closed.

The Spruce Fire  is about 5 miles south of U.S. 2 at Bear Creek in the Great Bear Wilderness. Three smokejumpers and a 20-person crew worked on establishing control lines to contain this 3-acre fire. Crews expect to reach 100% containment today. Spruce Park cabin is a special concern on this fire.

The Thompson Fire is now estimated at 14,095 acres, and is located in a remote south-central backcountry area of Glacier National Park about 15 miles east of the West Glacier entrance in the Thompson and Nyack drainage and west of the Continental Divid. Crews have made significant progress mopping up some edges from burnout operations earlier in the week to contain the fire. One 20 person crew is scheduled to be flown out today. The fire remains west of the Divide and poses no threat to communities around East Glacier and St. Mary.

Most of Glacier National Park, including Going to the Sun Road, is unaffected by this wildfire complex and is available for recreational use.  Limited backcountry closures are in place. For more specific visitor information, please see the website