The Saddle complex forest fire, comprised of the Saddle and Stud Fires, grew from 700 acres to over 18,000 acres with a strong wind Monday afternoon and evening.
The two fires started by lightning a week ago - the Saddle Fire in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and the smaller Stud Fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. They had grown slightly in an area that has not seen fire in a century, according to Information Officer Jesse Bender. Then, a strong wind pushed the fires together Monday and the resulting blaze created a pyro-cumulous cloud that increased the extreme fire behavior. It made a 5-mile run to the east and a 3 mile run to the south.
Firefighters and the public were well out of the way of the advancing flames.
There are many road closures in the fire area, which straddles the Idaho-Montana state line. Both the Salmon-Challis forest and the Bitterroot National Forest are managing the fire.
Horse Creek Hot Springs is closed. However, the main Salmon River Road remains open, south of the fire.