Monday’s Fire Weather Indicates Further Danger Levels
Fire danger is near the top of the Very High designation, and is heading into Extreme levels throughout western Montana. The hot, dry weather is allowing forest fires to continue their growth, with a possibility of some unwanted wind Wednesday and Thursday this week.
Smoke in the Bitterroot Valley is coming from the 4,792-acre Lolo Peak Fire and from the Moose 1 Fire in the middle of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. An infrared flight over the Moose 1 Fire July 30 showed an acreage of 2,850 acres. The fire has grown 2,000 acres in five days. Smoke from that wilderness fire has been invading the Bitterroot Valley through canyons south of Hamilton (see photo).
The Lolo National Forest reports the 6,400-acre Sunrise Fire, southeast of Superior, caused another round of evacuations Sunday, with the residents of Verde Creek Road 450 affected. They join evacuees from Sunrise Creek, Quartz Flats and Quartz Creek. As the fire approaches Interstate 90, motorists have been stopping and taking photos alongside the roadway. With the smoke and haze in the area, Mineral County officers are requesting people to not stop. It creates a serious traffic hazard.
The Sapphire Complex is now at 10,640 acres and the Whetstone and Meyers Fires near Whetstone Lake on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest have burned over 3,500 acres.
For those needing more information on the Lolo Peak Fire, a USFS "Firewise" wagon has been set up at the intersection of Highway 12 and US 93 in Lolo.