Fire Update – September 1 at Noon
The photo is from a burnout to rob fuel from the 26,000 acre Powell SBW Complex of forest fires, to protect the Elk Summit area. Those fires in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness have been the cause of much of the smoke in the Bitterroot Valley. An air inversion kept the smoke in the valleys, too.
Air quality in the Bitterroot Valley, as measured at the Ravalli County Courthouse monitor is listed on the hourly particulate count as "Unhealthy for Sensitive Persons" and the longer exposure category is in the "Unhealthy" level. Folks should limit their prolonged exertion and exposure.
So, you're thinking of going to Salmon, Idaho. Well, plan a little extra time. The Idaho Department of Transportation reports a 35 mph speed restriction about 20 miles north of Salmon, where the Mustang Fire is approaching US 93. There's a good deal of fire equipment moving around, and evacuations have been ordered in the Gibbonsville area. You will probably be led through the area with a pilot car. the 205,000 acre Mustang Complex is an ever-evolving fire, so conditions could change on an hourly basis. And the speed restrictions may last for a few weeks, authorities have said.
Highway 93 remains open and businesses along the highway in Idaho are open for business.
In the Bitterroot National Forest, the northern edge of the Mustang Fire has burned trees on either side of this year's Chrandal fire - to the west and east. Evacuation Alert 1 is in effect for the Upper Hughes Creek area again this year, and officials are looking at possible structure protection at Lost Trail Ski Area. Smoke from that large fire is clogging the southern end of the valley.
Closer to Hamilton, the Bitterroot National Forest sent helicopters to a small blaze up Fred Burr this past week and helicopters have been dumping water on the Sawtooth fire on the south side of Downing Mountain.