A pair of wildfires burning on the Ninemile Ranger District west of Missoula increased in size to a combined 170 acres in active burning Tuesday, giving firefighters plenty to handle in the increasingly hot, windy and dry conditions.
The Burdette and Sunrise fires are churning considerable smoke into the lower Clark Fork valleys as available fuels burn within the fire areas.
On Tuesday, fire crews gained access to areas near the fires so heavy equipment and other resources could be staged for fireline construction and defense. But firefighters were forced to stop their suppression efforts by afternoon because of the active fire behavior and gusty winds.
No structures or property are currently threatened by these fires, though both are expected to continue to produce visible smoke during afternoon periods.
Here’s a look at each fire, provided by Boyd Hartwig at the Lolo National Forest:
The Sunrise fire is approximately 100 acres, located about one mile east of Sunrise Mountain and 10 miles south of Superior on the Ninemile Ranger District. Fire managers continue to improve road access points for staging heavy equipment and other resources for suppression efforts. Fire growth and general movement of the fire perimeter has been toward the proposed Great Burn Wilderness.
Approximately 20 Initial Attack firefighters, 1 Hot Shot crew, one Type 1 Grader and one Type 3 Water Tender.
Aviation: Air Attack, Heavy Air Tanker, Chinook-Heavy Helicopter, Medium Helicopter and Light Helicopter.
The Burdette fire has burned about 70 acres. It is located about nine miles southeast of Tarkio and about two miles east of the South Fork Fish Creek drainage on the Ninemile Ranger District.
Fire managers planned to conduct reconnaissance of the fire again Wednesday to assess fire behavior, size and access points. Information gathered from reconnaissance will be used to develop action points and suppression strategy. Fire growth and general movement of the fire perimeter has been toward the proposed Great Burn Wilderness.