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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 9-16-18

Whale Butte Fire Wildfire
News – 9/16/2018

Paola Ridge and Whale Butte Fires Update
Sunday, September 16, 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
Flathead National Forest Facebook: Twitter: @FlatheadNF

Special Note: Fire activity continues to decrease on the Paola Ridge and Whale Butte Fires. Tomorrow, September 17, at 6 a.m., a Type 3 team from the Flathead National Forest will take over command of the Paola Ridge, Whale Butte, and Coal Ridge Fires. This will be the last daily update from the Northern Rockies Type 1 Team. We thank the community for your support.

Weather: Today, temperatures will range from 53-60 degrees and relative humidity levels could reach a high of 60%. Winds from the south-southeast will range from 5-10 MPH in the morning and shift to the southwest in the afternoon. Around 11 a.m., showers with isolated lightening are predicted. A second round of wetting rains are predicted anywhere between 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. These showers will result in approximately 0.25 inches of measurable rain.

Whale Butte: Today, crews will continue rehabilitation work in the vicinity of Hay and Spruce Creek Roads. Firefighters are ready to respond to any concerning fire behavior on the Whale Butte Fire, however, no personnel are assigned to the fire at this time.

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 96% complete.

Whale Butte Statistics
Location: 10 mi. NW of Polebridge, MT
Start date: August 12, 2018
Size: 515 ac. Completion: 96%
Cause: Lightning Injuries: 1
Estimated cost: $2.45 Million

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

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. Two helicopters (one Type 1 and one Type 3) are currently assigned to the incident.

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