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Drumming Fire

Unit Information

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

USFS Shield

Incident Contact

Spotted Bear Ranger Station
Phone: 406-758-5376
Hours: 8:30 - 4:30 MDT, 7 days/week

The Drumming Fire as seen looking northeast up the Lodgepole Creek drainage (1800 MDT).Image options: [ Full Size ]

Closure orders for the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest have been lifted. The only closure remaining in effect is the original trail closure on the Flathead National Forest: Trail #179 is closed from its junction with Trail #391 north to the Continental Divide. Please see the official closure order and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex Closure maps. 

Significant rainfall (Schafer Meadows recorded 0.53" of rain on September 24th), cool temperatures, and snowfall at higher elevations have resulted in a recension of the most recent area closure orders on both the Helena-Lewis and Clark and Flathead National Forests. Fire personnel have been removed from Schafer Meadows and from Badger Cabin. The smoke monitor that was placed at Heart Butte has also been removed. Duty officers on each forest will remain attentive in the coming weeks should their be any unexpected changes to the situation.

The Drumming Fire was detected by a Forest Health flight during the afternoon of August 26th; the fire was originally reported as two separate starts, the Drumming Fire and Drumming 2. They joined together during the afternoon of the 26th, growing from 3-5 acres to 30 acres. The fire was originally burning within a 30-year-old burn on a southwest facing ridge, 4 miles east of the Continental Divide; it has since crossed to both sides of the divide. It is actively burning in the heavy dead and down (1,000-hour fuels) and its growth is pushed by southwest winds. There is potential for the fire to burn east-northeast into the Beaver Lake area and onto the eastern side of the divide in the Elbow Creek drainage. The 2015 Family Peak burn and 2017 Crucifixion burn provide significant barriers to this spread toward the east, see the Fire History Map in the maps section for a visual representation. A third start in the area was detected on August 28th, the Lodgepole Creek Fire. As of September 6th the Drumming and Lodgepole fires have merged.

Initial attack measures were deemed inadvisable based on the current values at risk. Spotted Bear Ranger District will continue to manage the fire in the coming weeks; Flathead (SBRD) and Helena-Lewis and Clark (RMRD) have sent individuals to post closure signs and make visitor contacts near affected trails on both forests. Firefighters from the Rocky Mountain Ranger District were stationed at Badger Cabin and firefighters from the Spotted Bear Ranger District and Flathead Helitack crew were stationed at Schafer Meadows to initiate point protection plans as necessary.
Please see the official trail closure order and maps for specific information on the impacted trail.

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
Date of OriginWednesday August 26th, 2020 approx. 11:00 AM
Location23 miles SE of Essex, MT
Coordinates48.14 latitude, -113.165 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel11
Size4,351 Acres
Estimated Containment DateThursday October 15th, 2020 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved

Timber (Litter and Understory)

Significant Events

Moderate, creeping and smoldering, single and group tree torching.


Planned Actions

Spotted Bear (SBRD) and Rocky Mountain Ranger District (RMRD) employees are posting closure information and making visitor contacts in the affected area. RMRD firefighters are prepared to initiate point protection plans at Badger Cabin, if needed. SBRD firefighters and Flathead helitack members have been inserted into Schafer Meadows Work Center to provide point protection.

Projected Incident Activity

Fire spread is anticipated to the east and uphill, pushed by westerly winds.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

The long term forecast shows a potential for unseasonably warm temperatures and dry conditions.