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Sawtooth Fire Continues Movement to the West

birds on wire
Overheard: Bird #11 to Bird #12 – “I’d migrate if I could just see through this smoke!” (KLYQ Photo)

The Sawtooth Fire has burned 5,962 acres, according to the weekend infrared flight over the area. The growth of the forest fire continues to be west in the Sawtooth Canyon, away from the Bitterroot Valley.

Quite a few firefighters have left – with 47 people left on the fire, and the main activity being water drops by the helicopters, targeting hotspots throughout the Sawtooth fire west of Hamilton.

Officials said this weekend that Stage 1 Evacuation Warnings will not be lifted until a “wetting rain” happens. There is a forecast of cloudy skies Monday night and Tuesday.

In the meantime, air quality at the Ravalli County Courthouse monitor in Hamilton shows an particulate count in the upper range of the “Unhealthy” category, and the cumulative 8-hour and 24-hour exposure counts are in the “Very unhealthy” range.

Smoke is coming into the valley from large Idaho forest fires. The Powell Complex, bringing smoke to Highway 12 around Lolo Pass and into the Bitterroot Valley and the Missoula Valley, has burned over 51,000 acres in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

The McGuire Fire is still active on the western edge of the wilderness, keeping people out of a number of small towns, including Dixie, Idaho.

The Porcupine Complex of fires has closed down the Magruder Road between West Fork of the Bitterroot and Elk City, Idaho. By the way, the Porcupine Complex is only a half-mile from the northwest edge of the massive Mustang Complex, which is over 339,000 acres, mainly in the Salmon Challis National Forest.

Forest fire smoke has now spread throughout all of Western Montana, north to Flathead Lake.

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