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Sunday
Aug282011

Idaho, Lolo fires send more smoke over Western MT

East Fork Fire burning SW of Darby- USFS photo(LOLO PASS)- Fires burning over the border in Idaho are contributing even more smoke to the stinky air over the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys.

The Granite Pass fire, which started in a brief lightning storm late last week grew to over 200-acres Saturday, and are now between 600 and 800-acres. The blazes were initially being handled by the Lolo National Forest, but since their location is actually more centrally located on the Idaho side of the Bitterroot Divide, the Nez Perce National Forest has taken over management of the blazes.

The fire is located about 3-miles northwest of Lolo Pass.

It appears just one cabin is threatened by the fire.

But the main impact was clearly visible over the Missoula Valley Sunday evening, as huge columns of smoke drifted skyward toward Missoula.

We should get a better idea on the spread of the fire, and what fire managers are going to do about the backcountry blaze Monday morning. About 200 people and a Type 3 fire team were on the blaze over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Nez Perce National Forest has other fires to worry about as well, all burning several miles west of Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.

The Storm Complex is 600 acres and the Williams Range Complex is 85 acres.  Both fires were actively burning Saturday.

The largest fire, called the East Fork Fire on the Red River Ranger District, is more than 25-miles west of West Como Peak and demonstrated active fire behavior Saturday, with group of trees torching and some short-range spotting. Fifty-five people are currently assigned to the fire that has burned upwards of 5000 acres.

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