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Sawtooth Fire – Thursday Morning September 20 Update

cell tower area Sawtooth fire
The burned area around the Downing Mountain cell towers last week. (John Lehrman Photo)
The Sawtooth Fire remains at 40 percent contained and a little over 5,000 acres. The Level 1 Evacuation zones are still in effect. However, the Blodgett Campground, trail and Blodgett Pass at the Idaho border are all open, as of yesterday.

The public is invited to a public meeting tonight, September 20, at 7 p.m. at Hamilton City Hall on South 2nd Street. The fire managers will be updating the public with details on work being done, the future of the fire and, of course, the smoke – much of which is coming from large fires in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and from the 332,300 acre Mustang Complex of fires south of here in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

The photo we feature today was first shown at the public meeting last week. It shows the remains of the ground fire around the transmitter buildings and satellite dishes at the transmission tower area on Downing Mountain. The fire moved through the area early last week. The equipment was undamaged.

The Sawtooth Fire has been active on the western edge, away from the Bitterroot Valley. However, crews are working to keep the fire from spreading south. On the eastern edge, crews are pulling hose and equipment that is not needed. Helicopters are dropping water on hot spots and flare-ups. A new Incident Management team will take over the fire at 8 p.m. Friday.

Hourly air quality at the Ravalli County Courthouse air monitor Thursday morning was listed as “Unhealthy” and the cumulative readings are “Very Unhealthy.”

Elsewhere, the Magruder Road is closed between Elk City, Idaho and Montana. Us 93 is open and Highway 12 is open. Travelers on US 93 from Lost Trail south to North Fork, Idaho, should use caution and turn on your headlights. The same instructions on Highway 12 on the Idaho side of Lolo Pass. Heavy smoke and fire traffic will be encountered.

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