Friday Night Was Worst Air Quality Yet In Bitterroot
As the Storm Creek Fire jumped in size about 1,000 acres Friday, the resulting smoke flowed into the middle of the Bitterroot Valley, causing the Hamilton Air Monitor to dip down into the "Unhealthy" level for most of the night until early Saturday morning, July 24. Then, the levels quickly moved back into the "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" and "Moderate."
The Storm Creek Fire is the main source of wildfire smoke this week and is now estimated at 6,183 acres, according to Saturday's report from the Bitterroot National Forest. The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness fire is in Idaho about 16 miles due west of Victor (about 3 miles from the Montana-Idaho state line.) It has been growing all week in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Foreset, with prevailing winds sending huge amounts of smoke into the Bitterroot, especially in the Victor area, both Thursday and Friday nights.
The Bitterroot National Forest had one new lightning-caused fire that popped up and was extinguished Friday. It was less than a half-acre in size. Meanwhile, the Boulder Point Fire up the West Fork has been contained at about a half-acre and mop-up is continuing Saturday.
Helicopter activity is increasing in the Sula area, with a helibase set up to help fight the Trail Creek Fire in the nearby Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Highway 43 into the Big Hole has been occasionally closed to traffic due to that fire, which is over 26,000 acres.
In Central Montana, five firefighters were injured at the Devils Creek Fire near Jordan. A thunderstorm caused the fire to push the fire back on them, according to an Associated Press report. The extent of the injuries was not released and they are at hospitals. More crews are coming to Montana from Utah and California to help with the numerous fires in the state. And remember, Stage 2 Fire Restrictions throughout the area mean No Campfires.