The smoke continues to pour into the Bitterroot Valley and other areas of western Montana as a month of above average temperatures wraps up. And all major fires that started this month continue to get a little bigger each day. But weather forecasters are expecting a couple of days of rain showers Sunday and Monday. It's a "good news-bad news" forecast - yes, there will be some rain, but there may be some lightning, too. There's the possibility of lightning starting more forest fires.
Rain showers, clouds and a bit of wind might help our breathing. Air quality at the Hamilton gauge is slipping back and forth between "Unhealthy" and "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups." And, of course, some of the smoke is coming from fires throughout the Northwest. We have lots going on this weekend in Hamilton, but limit your outdoor activities.
Looking at what is currently burning (as of Friday afternoon):West Lolo Complex - north of Missoula on the Lolo National Forest, this fire is most active and is now 13,851 acres, with evacuations in portions of Corgar Creek, Blue Slide Road, Harlow and Ashley areas.Granite Pass Complex - Four fires in both Montana and Idaho near Lolo Pass totalling 4,847 acres with most of the acreage on the BM Hill fire at 4,131 acres. A Type 1 National team is taking over management of the fires this weekend. Good news - the Lolo Pass Visitor Center has re-opened. Be careful of fire traffic on US 12.Storm Creek Fire - west of the Bitterroot Valley in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, about a mile from the Montana-Idaho border. It is at 10,529 acres, according to an infrared flight and it has grown slightly to the south. It hasn't had much movement toward the valley recently. A management team is assigned to that fire and 22 other blazes in Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest in Idaho.The 41,019 acre Dixie-Jumbo Fire south of Grangeville, Idaho, is moving along the Salmon River. It's burning on the north side of the popular floaters' river between Mackay Bar and Allison Ranch. Floaters are to stop at Whitewater Ranch for the latest information before floating past the flames.
Fire danger throughout the area is Extreme and we are under Stage 2 restrictions, which means no campfires. The Bitterroot National Forest is posting frequent updates in Florence, Stevensville, Victor, Corvallis and Hamilton. The updates are also at their Facebook page.
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