Monitoring the Bob Marshall Blaze

By Beacon Staff

CHOTEAU (AP) – Fire officials Sunday continued to monitor but not fight a 3,682-acre blaze in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area.

The fire that was reported late Wednesday and spread across nearly 6 square miles was attributed to lightning, and brought the closure of several trails.

Weather Sunday was conducive to relatively calm burning, but a warming trend predicted for Monday could stir the blaze, said Punky Moore, a fire information officer.

She said monitoring rather than battling the fire is consistent with the management plan for the wilderness on U.S. Forest Service land.

In the Bitterroot area of southwestern Montana, conditions were calm after 19 new fires followed a thunderstorm Friday evening, said Nan Christianson, spokeswoman for the Bitterroot National Forest. The fires reported after that storm all were on less than an acre, Christianson said.

A Forest Service official in Dillon said the 100-acre Bachelor fire 29 miles southwest of there was declared contained Saturday evening. Several small fires _ one of them burning just one tree _ were reported in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest during the weekend, said Jack de Golia of the forest staff.

Given rainfall on Saturday, the fire danger in southwestern Montana was reduced to “high,” de Golia said. The ratings are low, moderate, high, very high and extreme. The ratings are based on wind, temperatures and the dryness of grass, shrubs and trees.