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Bitterroot Smoke Lingers On – August 20

queen fire
The Queen Fire in Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness last week. (Kevin Barger Photo)
The smoke has reached “Unhealthy for Sensitive Persons” at times in the Bitterroot Valley, which means those with asthma and other breathing or heart conditions should avoid extended strenuous activities. For the rest of the population, we at KLYQ advise you to stay inside with the A/C on. Besides, you can’t really see the mountains, anyway.

The smoke is coming from the usual culprits – Idaho fires. The fires in the north part of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness are divided into two complexes of smaller lightning-caused blazes. The Powell SBW East complex contains 9,000 acres of fire – mainly from the Cedar, Fern and Dan Fires. In Montana, we’ve seen smoke columns from those fires in the past couple of weeks.
The Powell SBW West complex is smaller, but is producing lots of smoke, too (See photo of the Queen Fire). The East complex is 37 miles southwest of Lolo and the West complex is 45 miles WSW of Lolo, with spot fires around Bear Mountain Lookout. The Powell Ranger District, by the way, has closed the Jerry Johnson Hot Springs because of the fires.

South of the valley on the Salmon-Challis National Forest, the Mustang Complex is burning to the southeast along the Salmon River toward Indianola and Dutchler Mountain and has moved a bit closer to Montana on its north flank. Its size is estimated at almost 90,000 acres and includes the Mustang Fire and the Lost Packer Fire. All folks using the Salmon River are expected to stop at North Fork Ranger Station for the latest information. All launches on the Salmon River are from the Cove Creek Boat Launch.

And the Halstead Fire near Stanley, Idaho, is about 92,000 acres. There was rain on the fire yesterday and crews conducted some burnouts in Basin Creek and Kelly Creek. Another Type 1 helicopter arrived at the fire this weekend.

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