Story by McKenzie Williams
The Highway 37 fire started on July 19 caused by discarded smoking material, there is still an ongoing investigation. As of July 29 the fire is at 70 acres and has a containment of 40% at the southwest corner of the fire around the initial starting location near Hwy 37.
On scene there is a ten person contract crew, two engine crews, 1 decontamination crew, and additional firefighters. In addition there are two water tenders, three masticators, two dozers, one skidgen. Air Resources such as helicopters are available for initial attack in or around the area. Any additional resources can be requested for local support.
There has been no new fire growth in the past 24 hours, smoldering of logs and stumps may continue for weeks. Warm dry conditions stay in the forecast causing higher fire danger.
Decontamination procedures remain a high priority for firefighting personnel and equipment.
The fire lines are holding and firefighters are using water to suppress and extinguish any hot spots and continue mop up operations. They will continue to use hoses and lay sprinklers to wet the fire perimeter. All air operations such as helicopters have concluded, but are available as needed. The sheriff’s department will no longer be managing road traffic along Highway 37.
The Kootenai National Forest has now officially entered Stage 1 Fire Restrictions as of July 27. These restriction will remain effective until rescinded.
Building, maintaining, attending or using a campfire except within a developed recreation site or improved recreation site is forbidden. Fires solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG Fuels are authorized in areas that are barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three 3 feet of the device. Fires must built within the confines of a metal or concrete fire ring or grill provided by the Forest Service or resort. Rock ring protected fires are not authorized.
Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials is forbidden.
Photo of the Highway 37 fire taken when it first began. Photo by Zach McNew of The Montanian.