LOLO PASS — A full suppression fire response is underway for the Lolo Creek wildfire, which was reported Saturday evening.
Lolo Creek Fire Incident Commander J.D. Bauman spoke with MTN News and said the fire is zero percent contained and continues to spread and burn actively. Several roads into Granite Creek are closed as Missoula Ranger District units respond to the fire in an area experiencing extreme fire danger.
Bauman said multiple wildfires burning near the Lolo Pass area are expected to grow with high temperatures and winds, and that we’re currently seeing fires now that normally we don’t see until later in the summer season. Personnel needs are currently being assessed by authorities.
This area of Lolo National Forest is not resistant to quickly growing fires. There is heavy dead and downed timber in this area. Some parts are old growth and have probably not experienced fire in over a hundred years.
Powell Ranger Districts are working fires on the Idaho side of the Clearwater Nez Perce National Forest. Two miles away from Lolo Creek, the BM Hill Fire, several hundred acres in size, is spreading towards Montana.
MTN News spoke with Seattle motorcyclist Bob Morgan riding to Montana.
Morgan said he saw about five miles of fire burning brush near the highway; “when we left Kamiah [Idaho], the west side of the river was on fire right by the river. And the smoke was billowing, all the way up to the top of the trees on the highest hills there."
Firefighters remain vigilant for incoming weather patterns, and heavy smoke along with wind is settling into the area prompting visitors and residents to stay on high alert for evacuations and health concerns.