Debris burn gets out of control burning 31 acres, multiple outbuildings

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A tender from the Kalispell Fire Department responds to a grass fire off Spring Prairie Road South of Whitefish on Tuesday evening. (Matt Baldwin/Daily Inter Lake)

Bone-dry fuels and a light wind fed a rapidly moving grass fire Tuesday evening that charred 31 acres and burned structures off KM Ranch Road south of Whitefish.

According to Lincoln Chute of the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services, the fire started when a debris burn pile got out of control. The fire damaged three outbuildings, a mobile home that was being used for storage, and one vehicle. No one was injured.

Fire crews were able to contain the fast-moving blaze before it reached any of the nearby homes off Spring Prairie Road.

Chute said grass in the valley hasn’t had a chance to green up this spring, so it’s as dry as if it were late fall. He said people need to be extra careful with burn piles right now because of the dry fuels.

“Even the slightest breeze, it will rapidly move away,” Chute said.

“People need to be extremely conscientious and be prepared for the worst.”

West Valley Fire and Rescue led the attack with assistance from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Evergreen Fire Rescue, South Kalispell Fire, Smith Valley Fire, Whitefish Fire and Flathead County Office of Emergency Services.

Chute said the firefighting effort was a perfect example of all the departments “working together as a unified force.”

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