300 firefighters working to contain the Elmo Fire near Flathead Lake in Montana


1:56 p.m. MDT August 1, 2022

3-D map of the Elmo Fire, looking east at 12:53 a.m. August 1, 2022.

Since the Elmo Fire started Friday afternoon July 29 it has burned nearly 13,000 acres a half mile from the southwest shore of Flathead Lake 22 air miles south of Kalispell, Montana. Firefighters were able to hold the south side at Highway 28 but it spread north uphill into timber and more rugged terrain.

On Sunday the fire grew by about 2,000 acres and was most active in the northwest side in the Cromwell Creek area. Similar fire behavior is expected today, Monday, with short crown runs occurring in narrow strings of timber.

Firefighters were assisted Sunday by four single engine air tankers and four scooping twin engine air tankers, CL-415EAFs, operated by Bridger Aerospace. At times the CL-415EAFs worked together when refilling by scooping on Flathead Lake and dropping in sequence. Sometimes called “super scoopers”, they can each carry up to 1,425 gallons.

Scooping air tankers Elmo Fire Flathead Lake Montana
Scooping air tankers reload with water on Flathead Lake, Montana while working on the Elmo Fire. Bridger Aerospace photo.

The incident management team reported that the Bitterroot Hotshots worked Sunday in the northwest portion of the fire holding and improving existing line as fire activity allowed. On the northeast side of the fire the Idaho Panhandle Hotshots constructed line to the west.

Crews engaged directly on the fire’s east edge as well with a Type 2 Initial Attack crew working their way to the north. Numerous engines continued to patrol along Highway 28 extinguishing any remaining heat close to the road.

Elmo Fire near Flathead Lake, Montana
Elmo Fire near Flathead Lake, Montana. Bridger Aerospace photo.

Today firefighters along with heavy equipment and aviation resources will continue to hold and improve previously constructed fireline. Crews will construct direct fireline where possible and scout for other opportunities as needed.

Map Elmo Fire August 1, 2022
Map of Elmo Fire, morning of August 1, 2022.

Highway 28 is now open, but drivers may experience low visibility due to smoke.

Resources on the fire Sunday evening, in addition to the air tankers,  included a Type 2 incident management team (Northern Rockies Team 7), six hand crews, 26 engines, and 3 helicopters for a total of 293 personnel.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.
View all posts by Bill Gabbert