Sheep Fire is now 1/2 mile from US-2, BNSF Tracks

US-2 remains closed to thru traffic between East Glacier and West Glacier. Local residents are being allowed through to retrieve valuables from homes and cabins in the Essex Area. Residents have been told to prepare to evacuate on short notice, but an evacuation order has not been issued as of 8am this morning.

There are two alternate routes east-west travelers can use. Passenger vehicles can use Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier National Park. Semis and other large vehicles are not allowed on this road. The second alternative is MT-200 over Rogers Pass.
The Thompson Wildfire Complex includes four fires, one in Glacier National Park and three on the Flathead National Forest.
Weather: The fires will experience warm and windy conditions with southwest winds up to 30-40 mph shifting to the northwest later in the day. The fires are expected to become more active with increased spread under these conditions.  A mobile fire retardant base is being used for helicopter bucket drops. Smoke conditions are elevated throughout western Montana


The Billings Chinook Type-1 Helicopter flies to the Sheep Fire past Essex, MT, with a load of fire retardant from the mobile retardant base Aug. 20, 2015. (Photo Jonathan Moor, GNP)

The Sheep Fire is now estimated at 232 acres, about 2.5 miles south of Essex in the Great Bear Wilderness of Flathead National Forest. It is burning in very steep, difficult terrain with limited access.  The fire was very active yesterday with the influence of the predicted Red Flag weather conditions. The fire spread northeast toward the Middle Fork and was about ½ mile from US-2 and BNSF railroad tracks last evening. A heavy helicopter was effective in applying about 29,000 gallons of retardant on portions of the perimeter to slow spread.

Because of fire spread fire managers requested a closure of U.S. 2 at West Glacier (Mile Post 154) and East Glacier (MP209) with residents only allowed past these points.  Access between MP178 (Walton) and MP185 (Bear Creek) have restrictions.

More than 200 structures are threatened by the Sheep Fire, including homes and cabins, the Izaak Walton Inn, along with a wooden railroad trestle and several snowsheds.

The Granite Fire is west of Marias Pass and south of Hwy. 2 in the Great Bear Wilderness. It is burning on 65 acres, in very steep terrain in a mixed conifer forest below a ridge. Thursday, crews assessed the area to determine the best plan of attack. They implemented structure protection measures on several backcountry cabins. Crews have been encountering numerous snags that need to be dealt with for safety before line construction.

The Spruce Fire is 2 acres in size, located about 5 miles south of U.S. 2 at Bear Creek in the Great Bear Wilderness. Several smokejumpers and a small crew worked on establishing control lines to contain this small fire. The Spruce Park cabin is a special concern on this fire.

The Thompson Fire 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 Divide. It covers 14,095 acres. Crews made good progress yesterday mopping up some edges from burnout operations earlier in the week to contain the fire. Today, crews will continue that effort. The fire remains west of the Divide and poses no threat to communities around East Glacier and St. Mary.

The Thompson Fire has not impacted any park roads.  The Going-to-the-Sun Road is open. 
New closures are in effect for some trails in the vicinity of the fires for Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest. For more info, please see Glacier NP page or for Flathead NF call Hungry Horse Ranger District (406) 387-3800.