The Garden Creek fire exploded overnight on Tuesday, August 7, to become the largest fire in Montana so far this year. The fire had been hovering around 500 acres for the past four days, but according to fire information Officer C.T. Camel strong winds pushed the fire east.

“This fire is located about two miles north of the town of Hot Springs, on the west side of the Flathead Indian Reservation on the border of the Flathead National Forest, some of the fire is now burning on the Flathead National Forest," Camel said. "It is now estimated at 1,842 acres, we had a little bit of a blow-up yesterday.”

The fire was started by lightening in rough terrain back on July 27, but this week’s hot temperatures and winds allowed the fire to rush south east.

“They had spot fires and slop-overs across the containment lines, they had to do burnouts to the east," Camel said. "They were registering 80 degrees at 2:00 a.m. with 24 percent RA, so it stayed nice and warm through the evening so the hand crews and the management team  burned through the night and into the morning, until around 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, so it was a tough night for the men.”

Camel says the fire is now within just a half-mile from a home, which has been evacuated ahead of the blaze. There are currently about 180 firefighters working on Garden Creek, and a new incident management team is expected soon. At over 1,800 acres, Garden Creek is nearly double the size of the Reynolds Lake Fire from down in the Bitterroot, which was the largest fire in the state till this week at around 1,000 acres.