GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – A Type 1 Incident Management Team assumed command of the 3,500 acre Howe Ridge fire in Glacier National Park and three other blazes burning in the Flathead and Glacier National Park area.
Drivers are asked to slow down and watch for fire traffic along US Highway 2 near West Glacier where the fire camp has been set up."
Heavy equipment, supplies, and firefighting vehicles steadily made their way to the camp along US Highway 2 near West Glacier on Friday where the team mostly from Arizona and New Mexico are headquartered.
"Dozers, [inaudible] They are all large pieces of equipment we use to thin vegetation, trees brush, whatever we need to from our containment lines so the fire doesn’t cross those containment lines," said Todd Abel section Operation chief for the team.
Abel says there may be a slight increase in containment in the next few days but concern that fire activity could pick up.
"We do have stronger winds coming in today and tomorrow. When we put wind behind it align it with the terrain fire can move around. We are continuing right now to work on putting those lines in so we have a line in the sand so to speak a defensible area we can start working off of, but we’ll just have to wait and see if those winds come," he explained.
Mitigating falling trees is proving a challenge for them on the ground as firefighters Friday continued putting structure protection in place around the Park.
All of the fires are in rough country in steep, rugged country that hasn’t had a fire in it for a lot of years. Some of the blazes are burning adjacent to prior fire scars from 2002 — creating a lot of hazards for firefighters.
Abel says they are prepared for those risks and if something happens ALS paramedics and EMTs are on the fireline with firefighters
‘In case someone does get hurt it’s been proven by trauma surgeons in the first 10 minutes of getting ALS treatment t someone that has been injured they have a higher success of survival without as much damage," Abel said.
Fire managers have scheduled a meeting to discuss the strategy to battle the fires at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the Columbia Falls High School in the "little theater."
Drivers are being asked to slow down on US Highway 2 in West Glacier in the area of the fire camp as well as in the Essex area where a wildfire has forced authorities to issue an evacuation warning.