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Crews battling wildfire in Swan Mountain Range

Lion Creek Fire
Lion Creek Fire 2
Posted at 1:49 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 01:19:39-04

KALISPELL — Crews are battling a wildfire that is burning in a remote area of the Swan Mountain Range.

The Lion Creek Fire -- which was reported on Wednesday -- is burning in heavy fuels on steep slopes.

Flathead National Forest spokeswoman Lauren Alley reports the blaze is burning approximately one mile outside the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

It was first spotted at 10:50 a.m. on Wednesday by a DNRC helicopter that was on its way to another fire assignment.

The Flathead National Forest immediately sent ground crews and helicopters for initial attack.

Alley says that due to its remote location, it took ground crews approximately three hours to hike to the fire.

Firefighters were only able to engage the fire in a limited manner due to falling snags and steep, rugged terrain, according to a news release.

Alley notes that helicopters were able to moderate fire spread, accessing a nearby lake for water and quick turnaround times.

The cause of the fire -- which was measured at 75 acres on Wednesday night -- remains under investigation.

Firefighters have been working on securing the south flank of the fire and maintaining access on the Lion Creek Trail to allow backcountry users to leave the area.

Two additional hand crews, several advanced fallers and two helicopters have been working to aid in suppression efforts.

The Lion Creek Trail area is closed, and nearby Forest Service roads are also closed as they have connector trails that come near the fire.

People in the Swan Valley may see some smoke, although right now fire managers expect that much of the smoke will blow east into the Bob Marshall Wilderness due to wind patterns.

Alley notes that while the area is not heavily visited, visitors to Van Lake -- which is about seven miles away -- should be aware that Lion Creek Trail #25 is closed.

The Flathead National Forest has responded to 16 fires on USFS managed lands so far this summer.