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Bitterroot’s Moe Fire Gets No Rain, But Low Temperatures

moe fire
The weather system that brought rain and snow to many parts of Western Montana unfortunately did not bring any moisture to the forest fires that have been sending smoke into the Bitterroot Valley.The Bitterroot portion of the Moe Fire is a bit larger, 10 miles west of Lake Como. (USFS Photo)

The Moe Fire grew from 2,500 acres to 2,838 acres west of Lake Como. In Montana, the fire is now 279 acres in size.

The forest fire started weeks ago by lightning in the Nez Perce National Forest and has been edging toward the Bitterroot National Forest ever since. Last weekend, it spotted over the Montana border and into an area between Grizzly and Elk Lakes, about 10 miles west of Lake Como. The fire is not threatening any structures or private land and is being monitored by fire officials.

The recent cold temperatures have slowed the growth of the blaze, with below freezing numbers expected overnight for the next few days. However, the area remains very dry, and without a “season ending” rainfall or snowfall, the fire will continue to burn, with smoke visible from the valley floor.

Meanwhile, the Sawtooth Fire is burning on its western edge, in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. No moisture was reported on that fire from the recent cold front, either. Helicopters are still dropping water on hot spots in the Sawtooth Canyon, west of Hamilton.

The other fires in the wilderness continue to burn. There are about 50,000 acres of fire in the Moose Creek Ranger District and on the northern end of the wilderness, the Powell Complex has grown to over 61,700 acres, with the Fern Fire being the most active, with group torching and small crown runs. the fire has burned to Forest Service Road 368 on Beaver Ridge and the the road is now closed.

Heavy smoke is still reported on Highway 12 near Powell, Idaho. Travelers need to use their headlights day and night.

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