Posted: Aug 29, 2013 8:24 AM by KPAX News Staff
Updated: Aug 29, 2013 9:33 AM
LOLO - Crews are continuing to make good progress in trying to containing the Lolo Creek Complex fire. The blaze has held at just under 11,000 acres over the last few days, with containment growing to 70%.
Firefighters have finished building a fire line around the entire perimeter of the fire, and will focus Thursday on holding and improving the lines.
Fire Information Officer Tom Kempton says with the weather forecast calling for afternoon thunderstorms and increasing winds on Friday which will test whether or not the newly constructed fire lines will hold on the north side of the fire.
Crews have made good progress on the south, west and east side of the fire where mop up has extinguished smoldering material up to 120 feet into the fire area from the fire line, according to Kempton.
He added in a news release that there is still a lot of active fire within the north containment lines, and spot fires across the line are a concern.
Structure protection on the Blue Mountain Lookout was suspended on Wednesday because of high winds, but fuel reduction work around the University of Montana observatory should be done by noon on Thursday.
The BPA 500 KV power line remains in the path of the fire, about 1.5 miles north of the fire line.
National Forest campgrounds on U.S. Highway 12 between Lolo Pass and Lolo remain closed, as do U.S. Forest Service lands in the fire area, including the Blue Mountain Recreation Area.
A 45 mph speed limit also remains in effect on U.S. Highway 12 between milepost 20 and milepost 32, with no stopping or parking alongside the road allowed.
Nearly 900 people remain assigned to the blaze which has burned five homes and forced hundreds to evacuate last week. Several crews from Canada, who arrived in Missoula earlier this week, are now helping man the fire lines.