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Smoke Increase from Fires – Sept 11

gird lookout
Smoke from the Up Top Fire is near the Gird Point Lookout. USFS Photo)

The amount of smoke increased from a couple of burnouts on the Up Top Fire, part of the 41 Complex forest fire in Sapphire Mountains east of Hamilton. The Up Top Fire has been creeping down into Saint Clair Creek and a second contingency fire line has been constructed on private lands to the west of the fire, which is almost 7,000 acres as of Sunday evening.
A successful burnout lit up the night sky Saturday on the southwest side of the Up Top Fire, to reinforce the existing fire lines. Then, Sunday, another burnout was set on the northeast side of the fire to hold the fire from moving down into the Gird Creek drainage. That burnout was almost halted when 2 unauthorized ATVs were seen in the area. A helicopter made sure that the area was clear before the burnout started. The public is advised to check with the Bitterroot National Forest about closed areas before they go out into the woods.
As seen in the photo, the historic Gird Point Lookout has been “wrapped” to protect it from the fire.
Almost all roads in the Skalkaho area are closed from Black Bear Campground east over the pass, including the Skalkaho-Rye Road which is also being affected by the Coyote Meadows and Fox Peak Fires farther to the south in the Sapphire Mountains.
Over the county line east in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest, the Lutz Fire on Emerine Ridge in the Sand Basin area is 3,606 acres and the Cooper Mtn Fire, 27 miles southwest of Philipsburg is over 1,000 acres.
Up the West Fork, the 30,000 acre Saddle Complex is still burning in both Montana and Idaho. Crews there conducted a burnout on the north edge of the fire this weekend.
And the wind is blowing smoke from the Nez Perce National Forest into the valley. In the middle of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the Otter Fire is now at 2,300 acres and north of that fire is the 1,400 acre Storm Complex, which put up a column of smoke Sunday with smoke blowing in to the Victor and Stevensville area.

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