Posted: Jul 10, 2012 12:33 PM by Mark Thorsell - MTN News
DARBY- The lightning sparked Chrandal Creek Fire, which was first spotted on July 7th, has blown up from 90 acres to about 1,000 acres as it continues to burn about 42 miles south of Darby.
Tod McKay with the Bitterroot National Forest says in a news release that the blaze has grown quickly as it's been pushed by "strong winds associated with dry thunderstorms and Red Flag warning" and is still sitting at 0% containment.
The blaze kicked up on Monday afternoon and evening with McKay saying that there was "group torching and runs to the south and southeast," and has crossed over into the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho.
The fire is being fueled by standing and downed beetle killed trees in the higher elevations and that thunderstorms also started two new small fires in the wilderness which crews have extinguished on Monday.
There are about 125 people assigned to the Chrandal Creek Fire, including 80 firefighters and three helicopters.
The blaze is burning in extremely remote, steep and rugged terrain on the Montana/Idaho border in subalpine fir and beetle killed lodgepole pine, about five miles east of last summer's Saddle Complex fire, and 12 miles southwest of the Lost Trail Ski Area, according to the news release.
McKay says a Type II Northern Rockies Incident Management Team has been called in to take command of the fire and is expected to take over management of the blaze on Tuesday evening.
The fire activity has prompted officials to close trails #184 and #106-Divide Trail, at Montana/Idaho border. Drivers are also being asked to avoid Mine Creek Road - #5688 due to heavy fire traffic. More closures are expected later Tuesday on the Idaho side of the fire.
There are no structures threatened, but fire officials are bracing for thunderstorms and lightning, along with gusty winds and high temperatures in the mid 90's late Tuesday. The National Weather Service office in Missoula has once again issued a Red Flag Warning for Tuesday afternoon and evening.