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Wilderness Fires Grow Under Hot, Dry Conditions

Bagley fire idaho
The Bagley Fire in Idaho is one of three in the McGuire Complex. (Linda Purnell, Dixie, Idaho, Photo)
The wind blows out the old smoke from the Bitterroot Valley and slows in the new smoke from the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Much of the smoke has been dumping into the valley right over Victor, in the center Ravalli County.

As a result, the Victor football game will move up to Arlee Saturday afternoon, to get the kids out of the heaviest smoke in the valley.

The wilderness fires have grown, including the 22,000 acre Powell East and West Complexes, including the Fern and Dan fires. Farther to the south and west, about 5 miles from Dixie, Idaho, the McGuire complex of three lightning caused fires has kicked up a column of smoke each day since it started. (See Photo) It is now estimated at 13,000 acres. Type 2 incident management teams have come to the wilderness and are now evaluating the flames.

The Mustang Complex of fires, along the main Salmon River have been pushed by the winds. It is over 190,000 acres. Part of the fire now has entered the US 93 travel corridor north of the North Fork Ranger Station. Evacuations have begun in the area, and travel speeds have lowered to 35 miles per hour on portions of US 93 south of Lost Trail Pass and north of Salmon, Idaho. To the north, the fire has crossed into the Bitterroot National Forest.

At this time, US 93 remains open.

Bitterroot Valley smoke particulate levels are a bit better than yesterday evening, but the cumulative levels are in the Harmful category, which is down from the Hazardous reading early this morning. The readings are taken at the Ravalli County Courthouse in Hamilton. The Department of Environmental Quality recommends you limit your outdoor exposure, and if you have breathing problems, stay indoors as much as possible.

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