Thompson Wildfire Complex Update – 8-23-15 8:00pm
Highway 2 is reopened, with pilot cars escorting traffic in both directions to ensure safe traffic flow through the fire area. Pilot cars will run 24 hours a day, but the highway could be closed due to changing fire conditions. Expect delays of 10-15 minutes.
The Sheep Fire is the incident priority as it is approaching US Hwy. 2 and the BNSF railway and is threatening the community of Essex.
The Sheep Fire is now 581 acres, and only about 1 mile south of Essex on the Flathead National Forest. It is burning in very steep, difficult terrain with limited access. Today we saw moderate fire activity with group torching. Increased fire activity is expected tomorrow with warmer, drier conditions. Three crews started clearing a fuel break today on the NE flank of the fire below the steep face across from the Goat Lick and to the north. Helicopters worked on hot spots on the ridge area. Goals are to keep this fire from going north towards Essex and moving into the transportation corridor along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. The night shift continues to monitor fire movement
The Granite Fire, 247 acres, is west of Marias Pass and south of Hwy. 2 in the Great Bear Wilderness. It is burning in very steep terrain in a mixed conifer forest below a ridge. Crews have implemented structural protection measures on several backcountry cabins, trailhead structures, a wooden road bridge, and a radio repeater. Three engines were on this fire today looking for potential line construction opportunities using existing roads. The Granite Creek Trail (#156) is closed.
The Spruce Fire was added to the complex Aug. 19. The Spruce Fire is 3 acres, about 5 miles south of U.S. 2 at Bear Creek in the Great Bear Wilderness. Crews worked on establishing control lines yesterday and this small fire is now at 100% containment. The fire was declared controlled today at noon. The fire will go into monitoring status.
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 has grown to approximately 16,515 acres.