With a Red Flag warning issued by the National Weather Service, more information was needed on the Gold Pan forest fire in the Frank Church Wilderness. Officials looked to the sky.

Friday, a helium-filled weather balloon with a three-pound instrument package was launched from the Incident Command Post on the West Fork Ranger District of the Bitterroot National Forest.

Phillip Manuel of the fire camp and Tim Sedlock of the National Weather Service worked together on the successful launch Friday morning, August 9.

Meanwhile, Information Officer Tim Kempton reported the fire is now over 17,000 acres and active burning has been seen at in the area of Grass Gulch and Lunch Creek on the southeast side.

A contingency line has been completed outside of the wilderness, toward Painted Rocks Reservoir. Forest roads 5644 and 1303 are open, but there is fire traffic, so drive carefully.

A public meeting is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at the command post on the Scripps Yonder Ranch, four miles west on the West Fork Road. The Magruder Corridor is closed at Fales Flat Campground, yet the campground remains open.