Rain, cool nights quiet fires

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While fires burning in and around the Bob Marshall Wilderness are still listed as “active,” recent rains and cooler, longer nights have mostly put a lid on them.

The majority of the 6,259-acre Hammer Creek Fire, located north of the Big Prairie Ranger Station, is inactive with isolated creeping and smoldering, but part of the fire picked up on Friday, said Seth Carbonari, fire management officer with the Spotted Bear Ranger District.

“The Hammer Creek Fire was putting up some smoke just above Prisoner Lake. It probably grew another 10 to 20 acres at higher elevation, but it’s fairly confined by some rocks,” Carbonari said. “So there’s still activity out there.”

However, rains early this week “have definitely slowed things down. We don’t expect any more large growth on the fires, but there will be incremental growth,” Carbonari said. The Flathead National Forest is reporting that fires received in the range of 0.5 to 1.25 inches of rain earlier this week.

Most recent size-ups for fires burning in the Bob Marshall Wilderness are 5,337 acres on the Big Salmon Lake Fire; 561 acres on the Stadler Creek Fire; 121 acres on the Clack Creek Fire and 174 acres on the Upper Ayres Fire.

Today, the Rocky Mountain Ranger District plans to carry out prescribed significant prescribed burns in the wilderness about 15 miles southeast of Big Prairie.

“The Rocky Mountain District is going to be doing a fairly large-scale burn, so if we see smoke columns, that’s likely where it’s coming from,” Carbonari said.

Meanwhile, outside the wilderness, the Puzzle Fire has held at about 1,579 acres along the Continental Divide south of Marias Pass. About three-quarters of the fire is on the Flathead National Forest, and a quarter of it on the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Firefighters have a long-term plan to prevent the fire from encroaching into the Badger Two Medicine area, and protection measures are in place for cabins and bridges.

The South Fork Lost Creek Fire, burning about 7 miles southeast of Swan Lake, grew to 2,100 acres after it crossed a fireline on its western flank on Sept. 11.

The Flathead National Forest is urging hunters and wilderness travelers to check on frequently changing trail closures in fire areas by calling either the Hungry Horse Ranger Station at 387-3800 or the Spotted Bear Ranger Station at 758-5376.

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