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Smoke Pours Back into Western Montana Tuesday

trees and smoke
Trees in the smoke, east of Hamilton. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)

The air quality monitors at Hamilton and Missoula reported “Unhealthy” levels of wildfire smoke Tuesday, September 12.

There is a long plume of smoke coming from Oregon, where fires are choking the Columbia Gorge.

That adds to increased burning the past couple of days on many fires throughout our Idaho and Montana forests. Let’s list a few:

From Inciweb, the Lolo Peak Fire is now at 51,788 acres and is about 46 percent contained. The Rice Ridge Fire is at 139,502 acres and near that blaze, the Liberty Fire is 27,034 acres.
The Gibralter Ridge fire near Eureka has burned 9,716 acres and in Glacier Park, the Sprague fire is listed at 14,432 acres. The Highway 200 Complex is at 22,990 acres and the Meyers fire, which is partly in the upper East Fork of the Bitterroot River, is now at 61,885 acres.

In the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the large Moose Creek 1 fire is at 16,801 acres with a good deal of interior burning, according to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. No new data on the 12,369 acre Lone Pine Fire.

On the Montana-Idaho border, but still in the wilderness, the Hidden Fire is now at 12,261 acres, having burned another 104 acres Monday, mainly on the northwest edge, but also on the southwest side, near the Bitterroot National Forest boundary. A 10-acre spot fire on the Bitterroot in upper Fred Burr Creek has not been very active, officials report.

The Chute Creek Fire, near Blodgett Lake, is now at 4,420 acres, making a northeast push and sending quite a bit of smoke toward the Bitterroot Valley.

The Green Ridge Complex of fires near Spot Mountain in the south end of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness is estimated at 4,769 acres. Spot Mountain Lookout was evacuated and wrapped with protective material. The complex includes the 3,975 acre Eagle Fire. The fires are generally four miles southwest of Paradise.

Weather systems are changing and some precipitation is expected.

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