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Northwest US Wildfires are Growing

wildfire smoke
Distant wildfire smoke blows into Blodgett Canyon Friday evening. (Fullerton Photo)
The fires of Washington and Oregon are making their presence known in the Bitterroot Valley as prevailing winds blow smoke into our mountain valley.

The Washington state fires include the Carlton Complex which grew from 167,000 acres Friday to 215,000 acres Saturday. The Mills Canyon Fire is over 22,000.

In Oregon, the Buzzard Complex of fires is 368,000 acres, and other fires amount to over another 70,000 acres of fire. The winds have brought smoke from those fires, along with fires in Canada, into Western Montana, causing air quality to be ‘Unhealthy’ at times Friday and Saturday in Missoula, Frenchtown and Hamilton. The more severe quality problems have been in Missoula County.

Meanwhile, the fire danger in the Bitterroot National Forest is “High.”

The Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department responded to an abandoned campfire at Canyon Creek trailhead Saturday morning. Firemen caught the fire before it could do much damage. Forest officials again are reminding people to make sure any campfires are out before they leave their campsite. The coals should be cool to the touch. Yes, that means picking up the coals. You’ll get a little dirty, but you could prevent a forest fire.

The Friday fire report from the Bitterroot National Forest showed only small blazes:

  • Goat Lake Fire – lightning caused in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness three and a half miles up the Tin Cup Trail. Size – 4 acres.
  • Railroad Creek Fire – lightning caused by the Deer Mountain Lookout in steep, inaccessible terrain. Size – 3 acres.
  • Wapiti Fire – lightning caused in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness near Paradise Campground. It grew to 21 acres and has been extinguished. Crews have left.
  • Tod McKay of the Bitterroot National Forest said that quick action on the local fires have kept most of them under an acre in size.

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