The Marston Fire burning north of Dickey Lake near Fortine gained an estimated 800 acres Friday, pushing northeast toward Whale and Trail Creeks in the North Fork of the Flathead River.
The growing fire on the Kootenai National Forest has led to closures of roads and trails on portions of the northern Glacier View Ranger District of Flathead National Forest.
Information officer Tom Rhodes said the fire was estimated at 5,500 acres and had advanced to about 2.5 miles southwest of Whale Lake by Friday night.
Rhodes said it remains about 15 miles from any residential structures near the North Fork, but critical fire conditions today could push it farther along into the drainages as strong winds are forecast to pick up this afternoon and continue into the evening.
“We expect the winds to come out of the southwest, and certainly that’s the way that would travel,” he said.
Today, firefighters will wrap Ninko Cabin about 8 miles northeast of the fire front.
The North Fork closure extends from Red Meadow Lake north to Trail Creek Road, bounded on the east by Akinkoka Creek.
The fire is being managed by the Northeast Kootenai Complex team, which will continue water drops on the advancing flames with two Chinook helicopters — capable of hauling 2,000 gallons of water at a time — and a medium helicopter.
“Provided that it’s clear enough to fly, that’s where the helicopters will continue to work, as well as aiding crews on the southeast side,” Rhodes said.
Ground crews have constructed fuel breaks and conducted controlled burns to get containment on about 10 percent of the fire perimeter. A fire line on the fire’s south side has checked its advance toward structures in that direction.
To the north, a fuel break has been completed along Deep Creek as well.
Concerned people are asked to contact 882-8303 for more information.
Reporter Samuel Wilson may be reached at 758-4407 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.