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Whale Butte Fire

Unit Information

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

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Whale Butte Fire Update 9-15-18

Whale Butte Fire Wildfire
News – 9/15/2018

Saturday, September 15, 2018; 8:30 am
Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1
Mike Goicoechea, Incident Commander

Fire Information: 406-578-8256, 8:00 am – 8:00 pm


Website: Paola: Whale:

Flathead National Forest Facebook: Twitter: @FlatheadNF

Special Note: Fire activity continues to decrease on the Paola Ridge and Whale Butte Fires. As operational needs shift, these fires will transition from the Northern Rockies Type 1 Team to a Type 3 team from the Flathead National Forest. This team will take over command of the Paola Ridge and Whale Butte Fires at 6 a.m. on Monday, September 17th.

Weather: Today, temperatures are forecast to range from 63 - 71 degrees, making it the warmest day since Sunday, September 9. Winds will come from the southeast at 5-10 mph through early afternoon, shifting to the east-northeast at 8-13 mph late in the day, with gusts to 15-20 mph. Minimum relative humidity levels will drop to the 21-27% range. Expect light showers to begin Saturday evening which will turn into a substantial wetting rain on Sunday.

Whale Butte: Incident Command conducted a reconnaissance flight on Friday; no smoke was detected over the fire. As of today, no personnel are assigned to the Whale Butte Fire. The fire will remain under observation, and firefighters will respond to any concerning fire behavior.

The Whale Butte Fire is managed with operational objectives of 50% “Full Suppression” in areas safe for firefighter access and 50% “Confined” (restricting the fire to a defined area, primarily using natural barriers) for a total of 100%. These operational objectives are 95% complete.

Whale Butte Statistics

Location: 10 mi. NW of Polebridge, MT

Start date: August 12, 2018

Size: 515 ac.

Completion: 95%

Cause: Lightning

Injuries: 1

Estimated cost:

$2.45 Million


Crews are prepared to take initial attack actions on any newly detected fires as needed.

Updates for the Coal Ridge Fire will continue to appear on InciWeb. Please see:

Evacuations: Flathead County Sheriff issued an evacuation warning for a small number of residents near Essex, effective at 12:00 noon on August 15, 2018. For more information go to or follow @FlatheadOES on Twitter and Facebook. No evacuation warnings are in place for the Whale Butte Fire.

Closures: Closure Orders are in effect on Flathead National Forest within the vicinity of the Paola Ridge and Whale Butte fires. Moose Creek and Whale Creek Roads are OPEN. Red Meadow Lake Campground is OPEN. Other closures are still in place. For specific information, please see the Flathead National Forest website below or the “closure” section on the fire InciWeb pages as listed above.

No fire restrictions are currently in place on Flathead National Forest. Remember to use caution with fire while enjoying your public lands. One less spark, one less fire.

Aircraft Assigned: All aircraft are shared among the fires within Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest being managed by Mike Goicoechea’s Northern Rockies Type 1 Incident Management Team. One Type 1 and two Type 3 helicopters are currently assigned to the incident.

The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the Paola Ridge Fire area has been lifted.