Editor's note: Flathead National Forest media release.
KALISPELL -- Flathead area fire managers moved the fire danger rating to high on Monday.
The danger rating is elevated for the Flathead National Forest, Glacier National Park, the DNRC Swan Unit, Stillwater Unit, and Kalispell Unit, and other local state lands. As a whole, Flathead County is also at a high fire danger.
Fire managers move the fire danger rating to high when a large area is dry enough to ignite easily, has a high potential for fire spread, and would require additional firefighting response.
High fire danger means that fine dead fuels such as cured grass, needles, and small twigs catch fire readily and fires start easily from most causes. Unattended campfires are likely to escape. Fires spread rapidly. Fires may have moderate growth and require multiple fire apparatus or aircraft to respond.
Locally, citizens across the valley have been preparing for fire season. People driving up the North Fork will see a new fire danger sign thanks to a partnership between the North Fork Community, Firesafe Flathead, Glacier National Park, and the Flathead National Forest Hungry Horse-Glacier View Ranger District. The community began talking about it two years ago. After securing funding and identifying a plan for sign maintenance, it was installed last week by Forest Service fire staff and was paid for by a grant that the North Fork community applied for with Firesafe Flathead.
Also last week, Flathead National Forest volunteers raked and removed grass encroaching into a trailhead parking area in the Swan Lake District. They noted multiple burn spots where hot engines had burned the grass down to the ground. Parking on tall grass is prohibited. The heat from an engine can spark a wildfire, sometimes leading to costly firefighting efforts.
Over the next few weeks, fire managers will distribute campfire brochures to convenience stores and gas stations to help the traveling public understand how to build and properly maintain a campfire to decrease the chance of wildfire. Community involvement and responsibility for fire season preparation continues to be essential as the area moves into more extreme temperatures in late July and August.
Everyone can play a role in being fire safe. From removing fuels on private property to ensuring chains don’t drag on pavement to creating a family emergency and evacuation plan, to learning about campfire management, every person can make a difference in this summer’s fire season. For information on how to prepare for wildfire season, contact the Community Preparedness Specialist for the Kalispell Unit of the DNRC at 406-751-2270.