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Brownstone Fire

Unit Information

Flathead National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
650 Wolfpack Way Kalispell Montana 59901
Kalispell, MT 59901

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This incident is no longer being updated.

The Brownstone Fire seen burning in the Brownstone Creek drainage on 9/7/2018.Image options: [ Full Size ]

The Brownstone Fire was detected on August 2nd, 2018. The fire is burning in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and was ignited by lightning on July 28th.

As a result of significant fire activity in the mouth of the Brownstone Creek drainage on September 8th, the decision was made to begin firing operations during favorable conditions on September 9th in order to secure the south end of the historic Big Prairie Ranger Station compound. Fire personnel constructed a fire line using a trail plow drug by a mule – you can find an example of trail plow use here: The line is anchored at the creek that held the 2011 Hammer Creek Fire and runs along the south end of the jack leg fence at compound.

Firefighters took advantage of the favorable conditions and implemented the burnout as planned. The firing operation continued into the evening hours of September 9th, and successfully completed securing the south end of the compound. The burnout operation consisted of a low intensity backing fire that will consume the heavy dead and down fuels from the 2003 fire scars. Firefighters were on site throughout the day of September 10th mopping up any spot fires and hot spots that were present. They will continue to monitor and patrol the fire line to secure the Big Prairie compound.

The spot fires in the Sandstone Creek drainage continue to creep and smolder mid-slope. There is no visible growth in the Cayuse Drainage, and no activity in the Francois drainage. The only significant activity remaining in the area is directly south of Cayuse Prairie, where the fire is slowly burning through the old regen and dead and down trees. On September 18th the fire made a push toward the Gordon Creek Camp; ground resources successfully initiated burnout operations around the camp to reduce fire intensity on the morning of September 19th. We will continue to monitor the spread of the fire with ground and aerial resources. Structure protection is in place at the Big Prairie Work Center.

The additional trail closures implemented on September 7th have been lifted. The previous trail closures on the east side of the river remain.

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
Date of OriginThursday August 02nd, 2018 approx. 01:45 PM
LocationBrownstone Creek/Brown Sandstone Peak in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Incident CommanderDuty Officer
Incident DescriptionThe Fire Management Strategy Is Point And Zone Protection.
Coordinates47.519 latitude, -113.188 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel8
Size4,070 Acres
Estimated Containment DateMonday October 01st, 2018 approx. 08:00 AM
Fuels Involved

Timber (litter and understory), heavy timber and snags.


Planned Actions

Monitor fire with aerial resources and on the ground at Big Prairie Work Center. Preposition personnel and equipment at Big Prairie Work Center in anticipation of point protection around structures. Crews continue to implement structure protection plans. Area and trail closure around Big Prairie effective midnight on Saturday, August 18th.


The Big Prairie Work Center is a major center of USFS operations for the South Fork area. It hosts corrals, dispersed camping, and several structures on the National Register of Historic Places. It is actively used for administrative purposes.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Drier conditions and normal temperatures have returned to the area after a period of cooling and precipitation.