Wind Causes More Burning and More Smoke
Idaho Forest Service officials said that gusty winds from a cold front moving through the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness caused fires to burn intensely in the afternoon.
The Clear/Nez Fire Zone update Tuesday afternoon reported a new lightning holdover 5 miles from Dixie, Idaho, caused a fire that grew over 150 acres in a few hours.
Other fires are included in the McGuire Complex in the Reg River Ranger District and a Type 2 incident management team will take over the fire on Wednesday.
The Porcupine Complex (see photo), near the Magruder Corridor put up a column of smoke Tuesday that was visible from Elk City, Idaho.
On the Moose Creek Ranger District, another holdover lightning strike grew into what is called the Dent Fire about 5 miles northeast of Elk City. An air attack and 16 smokejumpers were sent to the fire, along with hot shot crews.
And smoke poured into the Bitterroot Valley from the Powell SBW East and West Complexes in the wilderness, also pushed by winds. The total burned acreage there is over 20,000 acres. Most of that acreage is in the Fern and the Cedar Fires, which have burned over 16,000 acres.
Air quality as measured each hour at the Ravalli County Courthouse has been ranging from Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Persons, but the 24-hour measure is Unhealthy, the next step up. Officials explained the cumulative effect over a 24-hour time period may be different because prolonged exposure to elevated air pollution can worsen health impacts. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality recommends you consider exposure time when planning outdoor activities.
The Mustang Complex along the Salmon River has burned over 145,000 acres and is approaching Highway 93. Pre-evacuation notices have gone to Gibbonsville and south to North Fork. Officials are worried about wind and long-range spotting of fire ahead of the main fire front.
Highway 93 remains open.
The Salmon River remains open, but everyone must check in to the North Fork Ranger Station.