quartz fire Fires in the Livingston Range of Glacier National Park continued to spread over the weekend after closing trails and backcountry campgrounds as wildland firefighters employed a “contain and to contain” aimed at minimizing risks to firefighters and public safety.
Management of the 1,678-acre Quartz Fire caused by lightning has moved to a Type 3 incident management team, with 25 people affected. Although suppression efforts are not underway on the fire because it is burning in steep, remote and inaccessible terrain, it is being closely managed and monitored, fire officials said.
On August 21, the fire spread south and west, moving further down the shore of Quartz Lake, with additional growth in an elevated basin on the northwest side of Logging Mountain. At the north end, the fire remains east and south of Quartz Creek. On Aug. 22, fire crews said they had completed their efforts to protect the historic Quartz Lake Patrol cabin, wrapping the structure in fire-resistant material while laying down hoses with pumps and sprinklers. Firefighters remain on site to fine-tune protection efforts and assess the behavior of the fire.
The Quartz Fire was first reported on the morning of August 14 by a firefighter stationed at Cyclone Lookout along the North Fork Flathead River. Initially confined to high elevation on the west side of the Continental Divide, where it posed little risk to resources or infrastructure, the Quartz Fire spread as east-northeast winds blew the were growing west and southwest into the Quartz Creek watershed.
The Quartz Lake Loop Trail and Quartz Creek Trail are closed, as are the backcountry campsites at Quartz Lake and Lower Quartz Lake. The area is accessible from Bowman Lake and the Polebridge entrance station.
Meanwhile, a new lightning-caused fire start was reported Aug. 21 on West Flattop Mountain in the Lewis Range, near Fifty Mountain Campground in the north-central Glacier region.
Glacier Park public information officer Diane Sine said smoke from the West Flattop Fire was first seen from Swiftcurrent Lookout at 4:37 p.m. Sunday after an afternoon thunderstorm. Lightning was accompanied by rain, and fire growth was limited to one-tenth of an acre.
Three Glacier National Park firefighters were inserted into the area via a Flathead National Forest helicopter Monday morning to put out the blaze on West Flattop Mountain, Sine said. Glacier National Park, along with interagency partners Flathead National Forest and the Blackfoot Tribe, will continue to patrol for any additional fire outbreaks in the wake of Sunday’s storm.
According to Sine, the decision to ferry firefighters into the West Flattop Fire was based on its accessibility, as well as its potential to head north into the Waterton Valley.
“The number one goal of any fire is to limit the safety risk to the public and firefighters,” Sine said.
Elsewhere in northwest Montana, the Elmo Fire burning near Lake Mary Ronan, which just weeks ago was the top priority in Montana, is mostly a smoldering patch of scorched earth. The fire is 78% contained and remains at 21,349 acres.
A few miles north of Hot Springs, the Garceau Fire showed minimal growth over the weekend and is holding at 6,725 acres with 40% containment. There are currently 340 personnel assigned to the operation with substantial air support.
The Redhorn Fire, burning seven miles northeast of St. Ignatius in the Mission Mountain Tribal Wilderness, has seen minimal growth in recent days.
Lake County and the Flathead Indian Reservation remain in Stage 1 fire restrictions.
In the Spotted Bear Ranger District of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, cannon fire, first detected Aug. 7, has reached nearly 1,384 acres, shutting down recreation in the area. Portions of Forest Service Trail #107, 115, 218, 226, 493, and 693 are closed in the area. A map identifying the closure area can be found online and seen below.