The Copper King Fire burning near Thompson Falls exploded Sunday night as it rushed past some indirect fire line and into the record books as the biggest wildfire in Montana so far this year. Fire Information Officer Glenda Scott says the price tag on the fire has also shot up.

“Our mapping, as of Tuesday night at midnight approximately, we are at 21,045 acres,” Scott said. On Saturday we were at 3,400 acres, so it’s more than tripled. Our estimated cost is at about $10 million.

For some perspective in size, the destructive Roaring Lion Fire near Hamilton only grew to around 8,500 acres, less than half the size of Copper King. Both Fires started on the same day and Scott says they now have something else in common as a new incident management team takes command.

“Although Greg Ponzin’s type 1 team is a national resource, they are actually a Northern Rockies team and most of the team members are from various places in Montana,” Scott said. “We have quite a few incident commanders and staff from Kalispell, Dillon. Greg Ponzin’s team was down on Roaring Lion, I think they were off for just a week and a half or so.”

Because of difficult terrain, firefighters originally set indirect fire line to help contain the blaze. Now that the fire has blown passed that line, Scott says the fire is in area that is more accessible and direct fire line can be applied with controlled burning and bulldozers.