Sunday, August 09, 2020
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Firefighters on Magpie blaze challenged by scorching heat

by Matt Baldwin
Daily Inter Lake | August 1, 2020 10:53 AM

Fire officials on Saturday said efforts to contain a wildfire on the Flathead Reservation near Dixon have been challenging due to near-record heat and dry conditions.

According to a Saturday report from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Division of Fire, the Magpie Rock Fire grew to 3,167 acres and was about 30 percent contained.

High temperatures in the Dixon area topped 100 on Friday and were expected to reach the mid-90s through the weekend. A heat advisory was in effect across Western Montana on Saturday, which was expected to increase fire danger.

The Magpie Rock Fire continued to consume small pockets of unburned trees and vegetation inside the fire’s perimeter. The report stated that this fire behavior, which accounts for the smoke visible from nearby areas, poses a continued threat to fire’s perimeter.

“Aircraft continued to play a critical role in firefighting efforts yesterday due to steep and inaccessible terrain,” the reported added. “Helicopters dropped water to cool hot spots, slowing the fire’s growth and providing safer conditions for firefighters constructing fire line.”

A burnout operation using a helicopter was planned for Saturday.

Three hundred and five personnel were assigned to the fire.

No evacuations were ordered and no structures were threatened. Road closures on forest roads D-6,000 and D-5,000 remained in effect.

Air quality on Saturday was generally rated as good to moderate across Western Montana.

July was drier than normal for Northwest Montana, with no measurable rain falling in Kalispell between July 11 and July 31, according to data collected at a weather station at Glacier Park International Airport. For the month, Kalispell saw just 0.37 inches of precipitation, which fell over two days. Average rainfall in July is about 1.5 inches.

The hottest day of the month was Friday, July 31 when the thermometer topped out at 97. The low was 37 on July 14.

The National Weather Service in Missoula says temperatures will trend closer to normal beginning mid-week. An even cooler weather pattern could ramp up the following week.