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Jet Tanker Dropping Retardant
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images
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West Mullan Fire Over 4,000 Acres – Red Cross Opens Evacuation Center [AUDIO]

Over 100 homes have been evacuated due to the West Mullan Fire that has been burning since last Sunday near Superior.

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West Mullan Fire
Photo courtesy of Inciweb.org
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Wildfire Smoke a Concern for Missoula Health Department [AUDIO]

With wildfires burning both east and west of Missoula, it was inevitable that smoke would settle in the valley. Early Thursday morning the smoke veiled the mountains, but began to dissipate as the weather warmed.

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helicopter at Rough Creek Fire
A helicopter dropping water on the edge of the Rough Creek Fire in Idaho. (USFS Photo)
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Montana and Idaho Forest Fires – Updated Wednesday Morning July 17

The weather is playing a big role in Idaho forest fires this week. thunderstorms rolled through the area Tuesday and are predicted again Wednesday.

On the 4,700-acre Papoose fire above the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, rolling rocks and logs down toward the river are a concern, along with some flash flooding in areas of the Salmon-Challis National Forest that were burned in last year's massive fire season

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retardant drop
Photo courtesy of Cococino National Forest/flickr.com
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UPDATE – West Mullan Fire Over 4,000 Acres – Evacuation Center Opened [AUDIO]

UPDATE - 8:00 a. m. Friday, July 19.

The Mineral County Sheriff's Department has evacuated over 100 homes near the West Mullan Fire. The American Red Cross has opened an emergency evacuation center at the Superior Elementary School. Strong winds have pushed the fire to over 4,000 acres. The fire was discovered last Sunday, and the cause is still under investigation.

 

UPDATE - 2:00 a.m. Thursday, July 18, the following report is from the Inciweb.org, released at about 9:00 p.m. Wednesday.

The West Mullan fire remained active overnight. Crews were able to make additional progress on suppression activities above the residential areas north of West Mullan Road. The suppression line along Pardee Creek on the west side was strengthened with some burnout operations between the line and the fire. Several small spot fires occurred on the south side with upslope spread of the fire. Spotting is also detected on the east flank toward the Flat Creek drainage. These spots are up high on the mountain. Today, firefighters will continue line construction above Pardee Creek to tie in with an existing road. Crews will look for opportunities to construct line and attack the fire directly on East flank. An existing road on the northeast side will be prepared to serve as a contingency line. On the south side of the fire above residences, mopup of hot spots in the burned area will take place. Local fire departments are providing structure protection.

Residences north of Clark Fork River in Superior are under mandatory evacuation. West Mullan and East Mullan Road from Sunflower Lane to Big Eddy and side roads in between, are now under mandatory evacuation. Flat Creek Road is also under this evacuation order.

Pat McKelvey, Fire Information Officer

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has closed a five-mile section of the Clark Fork River near Superior so that water can be safely drawn from the river by helicopters fighting the West Mullan fire.

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Idaho helicopter
A helicopter with water bucket in Idaho. (USFS Photo)
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Papoose Fire Continues to Grow Above the Salmon River in Idaho

The Papoose Fire, burning near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, has continued to grow in rough, steep and generally inaccessible landscape.

By Monday evening, July 15, the forest fire on the Salmon-Challis National Forest was estimated over 3,700 acres and portions were burning downhill toward the river

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wildfire
photo courtesy of inciweb.org
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Lightning Fire Burning in Wilderness Near Gold Creek Northeast of Missoula

Inciweb reports that firefighters are responding to a new fire approximately 17 miles northeast of Missoula and three miles east of Boulder Lake in the Gold Creek area on the Missoula Ranger District.

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West Mullan Fire
photo courtesy of KECI-TV/NBC Montana
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UPDATE – More Evacuations Ordered in West Mullan Fire Near Superior [AUDIO]

UPDATE - Tuesday, July 16, 8:00 a.m.

Movement by the West Mullan Fire burning not far from Superior has caused more evacuations, according to fire information officer Pat McKelvey.

"There were some more evacuations ordered overnight in the West Mullan Road area," McKelvey said. "The fire burned down the slope towards those homes."

McKelvey said traffic is becoming a problem on I-90.

"Everybody wants to see the fire, see the helicopters working the area, and people are stopping on the side of the road  creating a traffic hazard," McKelvey said. "The Highway Patrol is being very aggressive in keeping people from stopping along the highway, so please don't do that."
Fire Information Officer Pat McKelvey

The fire is still at about 700 acres.

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papoose fire
An early photo of the Papoose Forest Fire in Idaho. (USFS Photo)
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Papoose Forest Fire Grows Larger West of Salmon Idaho

The Papoose Fire is now estimated at 2,800 acres in stepp, rough terrain about 40 miles west of Salmon, Idaho.

The fire started during a lightning storm July 8 and a helicopter rapeller crew could not contain the fire because of steep slopes. The fire is bur

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Cedar grove
A grove of cedar trees up Roaring Lion. (Fullerton Photo)
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Took Ridge Fire is Contained – Bitterroot National Forest Fire Danger is HIGH

Fire danger on the Bitterroot National Forest has moved from Moderate to High, as of Thursday, July 11.

Lightning caused the Took Ridge Fire at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday July 9 near the Lookout Mountain lookout, north of Painted Rocks Lake up the West Fork

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fire map
The Indian forest fire on the Salmon-Challis National Forest, as of July 26. (Salmon-Challis Natl Forest Map)
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Indian Fire On Salmon-Challis Forest Grows

The Indian Fire is the first major forest fire in the area for the season. The forest fire is in the Salmon-Challis National Forest south of the Bitterroot Valley. It started with a lightning strike July 18 and the initial attack included the 20-person Bitterroot Hotshots and a 10-person team from Sula

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