Forest Fire at Montana’s Big Mountain

WHITEFISH, MONT. (August 16, 2001) — An afternoon lightening storm on Tuesday, August 14 that ignited a 250 acre fire below Werner Peak near Big Mountain Resort is currently being attacked by air and ground fire fighting crews.

The storm also ignited two small fires within the Big Mountain Ski Resort boundary that were immediately extinguished by Big Mountain employees and United States Forest Service (USFS) crews.

The Werner Peak Complex fire, which is approximately 6 air miles from the summit of Big Mountain is actively burning, but not moving very fast. Major resources assigned to the fire as of Thursday morning include over 80 ground fire fighters, five engines, one dozer, two helicopters, retardant support, and 5 smokejumpers. Three additional 20-person crews are also on order. Progress to-date includes a fire-line anchor point established on the lower Whitefish Lake Road and crews are working on constructing fire lines from the anchor point to both the north and south.

Big Mountain is open for all of summer activities as usual and is taking every precaution for safe operations. USFS and State Lands personnel, as well as Big Mountain Fire Department will advise the resort if there is any significant change in the Werner Peak fire that would affect the resort.

Predicted weather for today calls for increasing temperatures and lower humidity with southwesterly winds at 4-8 miles per hour. The extended forecast calls for continued warmer and dryer weather with a chance of thunderstorms. A cold, dry front should move through the area this weekend. Any winds in excess of 10-15 miles per hour would accelerate burning conditions and crews would be pulled off the fire lines for safety reasons.

Level 1 fire restrictions are now in place throughout Flathead County. These restriction limit smoking and campfires in forested areas. All hikers, bikers and lift riders should be aware that smoking is not allowed except in the Village area and the Summit House area. Guests are asked to report any smoke to resort personnel.