Wind gusts up to 25 miles per hour pushed the Up Top forest fire another 1,100 acres this weekend. So far, the fire has burned about 11,000 acres in the Bitterroot National Forest and currently is moving toward the east, spotting over into the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest northeast of Dam Lake.
The Up Top fire is also burning along both sides of the Skalkaho Highway, where two helicopters have been dumping water on the flames. Information Officer Tod McKay says the helicopters dumped over 56,000 gallons of water on the fire Sunday.
The Up Top Fire has been pumping smoke back into the Bitterroot Valley, and will continue to do so, though cooler temperatures are predicted. Skalkaho Highway remains closed.
At the south end of the valley, the Saddle Complex of fires in Idaho and Montana, south of Painted Rocks Reservoir, has burned over 32,000 acres. It was not very active this weekend and crews are strengthening fire lines in the northeast corner between Woods Creek and Devil Creek.
A fairly new fire in the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness is now 1,871 acres. The Hells Half Acre Complex is comprised of three lightning caused blazes in the area of the Hells Half Lookout. The road is now closed at Vance Creek Saddle and crews have wrapped the lookout with fire retardant material to protect it.
Though fire restrictions have eased, the public is reminded to be extra careful with campfires, making sure they are "dead out" and cold to the touch when you leave your campsite.