Hay Creek
25.8 mi
N of Whitefish, MT
Fire Status:
Last Updated:
23 hours, 10 mins ago
Incident #:
Fire Start:
Wednesday, July 21, 2021 11:45 AM MDT

Current Weather

Fire Growth Potential

Fire Weather Forecast

Incident Overview Updated: 1 day, 7 hours ago

Incident Photo for the Hay Creek Fire

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Current Fire Statistics:

  • 2,356 acres [+91]
  • 9% containment
  • 185 personnel assigned
  • 14,716 gallons of retardant dropped
  • 660,440 gallons of water dropped
  • 23 fixed-wing flight hours
  • 84.90 helicopter flight hours

The Hay Creek Fire was reported Wednesday evening, July 21, 2021, approximately 5 miles west of Polebridge, Montana. The fire is being managed for full suppression.  Area, roads, and trails closures are in effect. An Evacuation Warning (pre-evacuation) is in place for some properties in the area. To monitor local air quality conditions, visit the Wildfire Smoke Outlook page.
The fire is burning in the Flathead National Forest, west of Glacier National Park. Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains just west of the continental divide and south of the Canadian border.  The 2.4 million acre Flathead National Forest is home to lynx, grizzly bear, and bull trout; with numerous lakes, streams, and rivers to enjoy, the forest is the premiere destination for visitors looking to experience natural landscapes of the American West.

The Hay Creek Fire is burning in the heart of grizzly bear country in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NDCE). At the time that grizzly bears were listed as a threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act in 1975, the NCDE was identified as an area that supports excellent grizzly bear habitat for the recovery of the population. There are currently between 1000-1100 grizzly bears in the NCDE, with high densities in the Whitefish Range where the Hay Creek Fire is located. Abiding by Flathead National Forest’s bear safety recommendations and food storage orders while in the NCDE is vital to the recovery of the grizzly bear population and human safety.  While seeing a bear is a memorable experience, your safety and the survival of bears depends on you keeping your distance. Before you enter bear country, take time to learn about bears and how best to avoid them.

Fire has played a significant role in shaping the local landscape, to learn more check out the Flathead National Forest Fire History Map illustrating major fires in the area from 1980 through current day. The interactive version can be found here. Fire is often thought of as a catastrophic event. In actuality, wildland fires are an essential part of the natural cycle. Many North American ecosystems evolved under the influence of fire. In fact, fire is the most prevalent type of natural disturbance in the Northern Rockies, shaping the landscape for thousands of years. To read more...

It is important to know how to recreate responsibly, Leave No Trace.

Most of Montana is under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions  Under Stage 2 Restrictions the following are PROHIBITED: Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire or stove fire.  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 closed of all flammable material. Operating an Internal Combustion Engine (see exemptions).Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame (see exemptions).Read the order linked above for exemptions, a map, and penalties. 

The state of Montana hosts the  Mtfireinfo.org website posting current fire restriction information by area for the state of Montana. Please use this map as a resource to determine activities that may be restricted where you live and recreate in Montana. When fire restrictions are in effect, the affected area will be highlighted in yellow, orange, or red, depending on the type of restriction in place. 

To Protect Your Home from a Wildland Fire:Does your home have the ADDRESS posted at the end of the driveway and on your Home so that emergency responders can find your home? Is the address RELECTIVE so that responders can see the address in the dark, in smoke, or after a snow storm? 

The management of the Hay Creek Fire has transitioned to California Interagency Incident Management Team (IMT) 13 led by Incident Commander Michael Wakoski as of 7am on August 1, 2021. The Incident Command Post is based in the West Glacier area. They worked closely with the previous IMT to ensure a smooth transition and are committed to working with the local communities and cooperators.

Basic Information

Incident Type:
Date of Origin:
Wednesday, July 21, 2021 5:45 PM MDT
Approximately 4 miles west of Polebridge, Montana
Incident Commander:
Michael Wakoski, California Interagency Incident Management Team 13
48.778, -114.431

Current Situation

Total Personnel:
Size (Acres):
Fuels Involved:
Timber (Litter and Understory)
Significant Events:
The fire continued to burn in heavy down and dead fuels. Today the fire activity increased from
yesterday due to a rapid warming and drying trend. Fire behavior has been steadily increasing
throughout the day and many areas are showing more smoke, smoldering and fire activity. Scattered
areas of intense heat along the fire's edge were detected today.

Planned Outlook

Planned Actions:
Continue strategic firing operations to stay current with fire progression. Continued heavy equipment prep along pre-existing fuel breaks.
Projected Incident Activity:
Fire behavior is increasing as fuels start to dry out from recent rain. High intensity burning in heavy down and dead fuels will continue.

Weather Synopsis

Weather Concerns:
Slightly warmer temperatures are expected on Tuesday and Wednesday with a mostly sunny, but smoky sky. Westerly winds will be around 10 to 15 mph with gusts to 25 mph on the ridgetops.

Incident Contact

Incident Contact
Hay Creek Fire Information
Email: 2021.haycreek@firenet.gov
Phone: 406-219-1013
Hours: Daily 8am to 8pm
Fire Unit Information
Flathead National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
650 Wolfpack Way
Kalispell, MT 59901