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Mustang Fire Keeps Moving East – September 4

mustang fire map
A portion of the Mustang Fire Progression Map. (USFS)
The Mustang Fire in Idaho’s Salmon-Challis National Forest is only 3 miles away from US 93 as of Tuesday morning, according to fire officials. Evacuations have been taking place in the Gibbonsville area, since the fire continues to move east (red sections of map). The fire is also causing concern on the Bitterroot National Forest, mainly at Hughes Creek, south of Painted Rocks Reservoir and Lost Trail Powder Mountain, to the northeast of the fire.

US 93 remains open, as do the businesses along the road, though sections are under a reduced 35 mph speed limit and conditions could change at any time. The fire is now estimated at 241,000 acres, and prime burning time is 3pm to 8pm daily, so it will most likely grow again.

Smoke in the Bitterroot Valley is also coming from the Powell SBW Fire Complex in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Idaho, west of the Bitterroot Valley. Those lightning caused fires have burned about 34,000 acres so far. The smoke is affecting life in Ravalli County, but part of that complex is moving toward Highway 12, just to the west of the Warm Springs Trailhead. Burnouts have been cut short or cancelled due to the hot, dry conditions. The Freeze Out Queen Fire should reach the Lochsa River. Structure protection is in place at Powell and the Lochsa Lodge.

The 15,000 acre McGuire Fire, also in the wilderness, is causing a voluntary evacuation for Dixie, Idaho. The town is at one end of the Magruder Corridor, a road that cuts through the middle of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness from Montana to Idaho. That road is now only open between 10am and 12 noon daily, because of another fire – the Porcupine, about 25 miles east of Elk City.

On the Bitterroot National Forest west of Hamilton, the 300-acre Sawtooth fire is burning into the forest, away from town, but is threatening to cross into the Canyon Creek drainage. Firefighters are laying sprinklers to try to prevent that from happening.

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