Forest Fire Growth Continues in All of Montana
It doesn't matter which fire you examine - they have all gained acreage this weekend.
As of Noon Sunday, July 23, not much new to report from the Bitterroot National Forest. The fires are small and no structures are threatened.
Smoke in the valley seems to be coming from the Lolo Peak Fire, the 850-acre Moose Creek 1 Fire in the Selway-Bitterroot and other fires in Idaho. The Moose Creek fire has caused the closure of many trails in that area. Check with the Bitterroot National Forest or the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest before heading out.
The Lolo Peak Fire is 468 acres and has continued to add to that total. A Type 1 Incident Management team is now in place because the fire (on the northeastern edge of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness) is relatively close to major highways and residences.
The Goat Creek Fire, north of Rock Creek and west of I-90, is now at 1,319 acres, with 295 people on the fireline. Evacuations are in force and only local traffic has been allowed on Rock Creek road.
The Sunrise Fire, northwest of Missoula and west of Alberton on the Lolo National Forest, is now at 800 acres. A Type 2 Incident Management Team is setting up at Tarkio.
Southwest of Philipsburg, the Whetstone Ridge Fire has grown to 1,504 acres and the nearby Meyers fire is at 895 acres at last report. The fires, around Moose Lake, have caused closures of Moose Lake Road (Local traffic only), Ross Fork Road south of Milo Lake, The Copper Creek Road is closed at the junction with Moose Creek Road and the Copper Creek Campground is closed. Trails in the area are closed, of course.
There is a public meeting on the Whetstone Ridge and Meyers Fires Sunday night, July 23, at the Philipsburg School at 7 p.m.
Representatives from the Goat Creek, Little Hogback and Sliderock fires will be at the meeting, too.
Once again, a warning for those drone owners from the Lolo National Forest:
A temporary flight restriction includes “drones” or unmanned aerial vehicles. If drones are detected, air operations will stop. The public is reminded that “If you fly, we can’t!”
The largest fire in the state is in eastern Montana. It's the Lodgepole Complex, a 200,000 acre fire burning in pine, grass, sagebrush and dead and downed timber. The complex started 52 miles from Jordan, Montana, and now consists of the South Breaks/Square Butte Fire, the Bridge Coulee Fire and the Baker Fire.
Traffic on Montana Highway 200 in that area has been temporarily closed at times and speed restrictions are being enforced. A portion of Garfield County north of Highway 200 to Fork Peck Lake and West of Edwards Road remains under an evacuation order.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. It was discovered Wednesday, July 19.
By the way, much of the information in this report is from Inciweb, with updates coming from the individual fire management teams.
And, you can get the KLYQ reports and other local news on your smartphone. Download the free App from your app store. Just look for KLYQ. We're on the air in Hamilton at 1240 AM with Montana news starting at 6 a.m. and Bitterroot Valley news at 7:30 a.m.