Forest Fire Smoke Settles Into Bitterroot and Missoula Valleys
Area forest fires continue to grow, but the most of the smoke in the Bitterroot and Missoula Valleys is from California. Joe Messina of the National Weather Service in Missoula said Monday morning, "The large majority of the smoke really is coming from California." He said the wind patterns that bring the smoke up from the southwest will become more westerly this week, which might stop some of the smoke from the California fires. However, Monday morning the Hamilton air quality had dropped from "Moderate" to "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups." Those with lung issues should limit their outside activities.
A new fire on the Lolo National Forest is in the Sapphire Mountains on eastern side of the Bitterroot valley. The Cinnabar Fire in the Welcome Creek Wilderness area was estimated at 30 acres Sunday, but is burning aggressively in heavy downfall and beetle-killed timber (Photo above). It's about 10 miles east of Stevensville in the Rock Creek Drainage at Carron Creek on the Missoula Ranger District. A management team will be working on full suppression of the Cinnabar Fire, according to Lolo National Forest officials.
Meanwhile, the Bear Creek Fire at Lemhi Pass on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest is now 10,706 acres as of Monday morning. In Idaho, the Sissler Fire south of Elk City is at 2,100 acres near the Magruder corridor. In the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest is reporting the Double fire on the Moose Creek Ranger District and the Marion fire six miles southeast of Powell on the Lochsa-Powell Ranger District. Both fires were about 50 acres in size Monday morning.