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Valley Smoke Returns – August 16

valley smoke
Smoke from the area of the Mustang Complex. (Sandy Nelson Photo)

The north end of the Bitterroot Valley is again being covered with a blanket of smoke from Idaho forest fires in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

The south end of the Bitterroot Valley has smoke coming from the Mustang Complex of fires in the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho, and some smller fires in the West Fork.

The Powell SBW East Complex of fires now totals almost 4,600 acres. Most of the smoke coming our way is from the Cedar Fire and the Fern Fire. The Cedar Fire is “actively burning and threatening Guard Station and Elk Summit/Hoodoo Lake Campgrounds.

The Mustang Complex has turned into a giant, now estimated at over 85,000 acres. it has crossed the Owl Creek drainage, heading toward Sourdough Creek, and is burning on Beartrap Ridge. It’s also backing into Horse Creek, Filly Creek and Oreana Ridge. Protection measures are being assessed for Salmon River Recreation Area, Gattin Ranch, Blue Nose Lookout, Shoup, Spring Creek Cabins and other areas.

A portion of the Salmon River Road was closed until further notice. Those wishing to float the river need to check into the North Fork Ranger Station for the latest information.

The Bitterroot National Forest has a number of small fires in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness on the West Fork Ranger District. The largest is the Salamander Fire, which is at least 1,000 acres at this time and it’s moved closer to the Magruder Corridor Road. It was one and half miles away. Now, it’s 3/4 of a mile away. The corridor, though, remains open, as of Thursday morning.

Nine of the West Fork fires are: Indian ridge, Burnt Strip, Green Mountain, Beaver Jack, Watchtower Lake, Cabin Springs, Hamilton, Upper Cooper and Goat. The Cabin Springs Fire is 200 acres and is moving toward Prospect Ridge Trail 113 and Harrington Ridge Trail 9. Trail #10 is also threatened by three other fires.

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions will come into play Saturday morning on the Bitterroot National Forest.


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