Hot Temps Spur Kootenai Creek Fire

By Beacon Staff

HAMILTON – Hot weather has spurred the growth of the Kootenai Creek fire, which has now burned 175 acres in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness west of Stevensville.

The lightning-caused fire is 3 1/2 miles west of the Kootenai Creek trailhead and 1 1/2 miles inside the wilderness boundary.

Bitterroot National Forest officials say the fire is burning on the eastern flank, but continues to hold just west of an avalanche chute that fire managers regard as the primary natural boundary.

Fire managers are using a helicopter equipped with a bucket to drop water, to slow the spread of the fire toward the canyon bottom.

Elsewhere, the Bielenburg fire, 11 miles southwest of Deer Lodge on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, was also at 175 acres Wednesday and 50 percent contained.

About 200 firefighters are on the scene of the fire, which also was caused by lightning.