The smoke is making is hard for residents to see the fires surrounding the Bitterroot valley.
A couple of thunderstorm cells grew during the afternoon Wednesday over the Sapphire Mountains in the vicinity of the Fox Peak Fire and then moved off to the east.
Meanwhile, the hot dry conditions added wind gusts, generally from the west. The wind pushed the Up Top Fire farther to the northeast along the Skalkaho Highway. It was about 9,250 acres, as of Wednesday morning. A large contingent of sprinklers have been wetting down the shrubbery around photogenic Skalkaho Falls as the flames pass by.
On the west side of the Up Top Fire, crews are busy trying to increase the fire line to keep the fire from dropping farther down into the St Clair Creek drainage. The main fire line on the west has been completed across the Gird Creek drainage and is being held.
Farther south in Sapphires, the Coyote Meadows Fire grew to about 1,400 acres and Fox Peak is at 275 acres.
Again, caution is being advised for motorists on Hamilton Heights road, Tammany Lane and the lower portion of Skalkaho Highway due to increased fire traffic.
Smoke from fires in the Nez Perce National Forest in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness has been pumping into the valley with the wind gusts. The Storm Complex is closest to the valley, but still about 7 miles west of St Mary Lookout. It started as three lightning strikes and is estimated at about 4,000 acres as of Wednesday morning. Smoke is also coming from the Otter Fire on the Moose Creek Ranger District.
In the south end of the valley, the Saddle complex is still a danger to homes in the Hughes Creek area.
Out in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, 7 lightning strikes have merged into three fires - the Horsejaw, Horsejaw 2 and Devils Point/Storm Ridge. Together they are are about 1,600 acres and are within a few miles of Hells Half Lookout. The lookout has been wrapped with fire retardant material.
KLYQ Radio has regular fire updates each morning at 7:30am and we continue to update you here on the website and on Facebook.