(AUGUSTA)- Fire managers say cooler weather through Saturday helped firefighters slow the spread of the Elbow Pass Complex fires into the Benchmark area, although a mandatory evacuation order remains in place.
The Elbow Pass Fire was started by a lightning strike last month, but several other fires started in the same area of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, spreading across 2-different ranger districts in the mountains 25-miles west of Augusta. The Elbow Pass, Rapid Creek, Triple Divide and Bar Creek fires have burned a total of more than 15,000 acres.
The Forest Service says continued cool weather Saturday kept fire growth to a minimum, allowing crews to work along the fire's eastern perimeter at Wood Creek, Hogback Ridge and Patrol Ridge, helping to build lines to keep the fires from spreading into the Benchmark corridor. Crews also completed fireline along the South Fork of the Sun River to Ellis Creek and set up protection measures for cabins at Welcome Creek and Indian Point, as well as the Danaher and Basin Cabins west of the Bar Creek fire.
In addition to the Benchmark evacuations, the area closure includes the entire upper South Fork Sun River south of Benchmark, the Straight Creek drainage up to Halfmoon Creek including the Green Fork drainage, the Petty Crown and Petty Ford area, and the area east of the Benchmark Road through Renshaw Mountain, Red Hill, Cyanide Mountain, and Red Creek to the Double Falls area along the Benchmark Road. The Benchmark Road remains closed.