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Air Quality Worsens in Bitterroot Valley

sun and trees
The smoke hid the sunset September 2. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)

More smoke pouring in from an incredible number of forest fires caused the air quality to take another dip Saturday afternoon in Hamilton.

The air quality monitor at the Ravalli County Courthouse showed an “Unhealthy level’ starting at about 4 p.m. Saturday, September 2, and staying there in that category through at least midday Sunday.

As of this blog, the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness fires were showing growth in the hot, and at times, windy conditions. The Hidden Fire, about a half mile from the wilderness boundary, was estimated at 8,328 acres and has been burning to the north and downhill toward Colt Killed Creek, according to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.

Farther west into the interior of the wilderness, the Moose 1 Fire has burned 14,858 acres and the Lone Pine fire is now at 10,152 acres, having merged with the Mink Peak and Tony fires.

The Chute Creek Fire is about 2,460 acres and is a mile west of Blodgett Lake.

There are a number of forest fires to the west of Montana that are also contributing to the smoke.

In Montana, the Meyers Fire is now 37,649 acres. It has caused evacuation warnings in the East Fork of the Bitterroot, from forest road 5778 to Little East Fork Road 724. The fire Saturday burned to the west toward the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness. Fireline is being put in on the Southeast edge of the fire in the Bitterroot National Forest.

Also in the Bitterroot, evacuation warnings continue for the Nelson Creek Fire up the Nez Perce Road.

Other Montana fires, as of Sunday afternoon, the Lolo Peak Fire has been burning to the south and is now 43,687 acres, the new Highway 200 Complex is estimated at 9,633 acres, the Sapphire Complex is 40,658 acres, the Rice Ridge Fire is 52,894 acres, the Liberty Fire is 16,788 acres and the weather has not given firefighters a break.

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