POLSON — A wildfire that exploded over the weekend destroyed several structures and forced evacuations along Montana Highway 35 in the Finley Point area along the southeast corner of Flathead Lake.
When the Boulder 2700 fire flared up early Sunday, firefighters with the Finley Point-Yellow Bay Fire Department were some of the first at the scene as high winds shifted the wildfire out of control; some volunteer firefighters worked 35-plus straight hours to help save their neighbor's homes.
As of Monday, the fire has burned an estimated 1,134 acres, and destroyed several structures. There have been no reported injuries. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
Finley Point-Yellow Bay Fire Department Lieutenant Bryce Muench said firefighters worked around the clock to protect as many homes as possible early Sunday morning when high winds flared the Boulder 2700 fire out of control.
He said cooler temperatures and moisture Sunday night into Monday have helped firefighters protect homes.
“We’ve got our hands around it, structures at this moment are in a safer condition than they have been the last few days, I’m confident that this weather today is helping things, and we’re doing the best we can at this point,” said Muench.
Finley Point-Yellow Bay Fire Chief Brent Burland said the hillside on fire near Finley Point hasn’t burned in close to 100 years. He’s worried Tuesday's predicted dry and warmer temperatures will flare conditions right back up.
“Right now, it seems calm and cool, but I think tomorrow’s going to be another story,” said Burland.
Burland said fighting this wildfire brings extreme challenges due to the steep rugged terrain of the Mission Mountains.
He said his fire department will now be assisting the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team with anything they need. “We’re going to stage equipment for them to access whenever needed,” added Burland.
Muench asks Finley Point residents to be patient and understanding as firefighters work to contain the fire and lift evacuations.
“I know it’s frustrating, I know it’s scary, right now it is under control as far the homes are concerned, but as far as getting back for pets and clothing, at this point, we just ask for everyone’s understanding, we’re doing the best we can and hopefully this will get cleaned up,” said Muench.