Weather Works with Fire Crews on Thompson Falls Fire

Fire remains at about 900 acres as cooler temperatures, higher humidity aid crews

By Molly Priddy
The Copper King Fire burns near Thompson Falls on July 31, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Updated at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 3

Cool temperatures and an increase in humidity is making work easier for the crews tackling the Copper King Fire near Thompson Falls, which has burned 900 acres since it began on July 31.

The fire is still not contained, but Lolo National Forest spokesperson John Hamilton said 275 personnel are on the ground fighting the blaze, along with six helicopters.

Tuesday night was explosive for the massive Roaring Lion Fire in the Bitterroot Valley near Hamilton, but the windy weather largely missed the Thompson Falls area overnight. The fire was listed at 700 acres on Tuesday and grew to 900 on Wednesday.

But as of Wednesday morning, conditions were in favor of the firefighters.

“We were expecting the valley to be full of smoke but it wasn’t and the temperatures are cooler and the humidity is rising,” Hamilton said.

The fire is burning about eight miles east of Thompson Falls and one mile north of Highway 200. There are no evacuation orders thus far, and there is no immediate threat to structures or property.

Thompson’s Eastern Montana Type II Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire on Aug. 2 at 6 a.m. In addition to hotshot crews, initial attack crews and a heavy-equipment task force already on scene, two engine strike teams and four water tenders have been ordered. A single-engine fixed-wing water scooper and several retardant planes will also be on scene.

Closures

Forest Road No. 56 on the west side of Thompson River is still open but Road No. 9991 (ACM Road) on the east side of Thompson River has been closed, from the junction with No. 56 to the 17-mile marker. Road No. 5587 (Spring Creek) is also closed, as are forest trails No. 345 (Todd Creek), No. 368 (Big Hole Lookout), No. 370 (Spring Creek), No. 372 (Munson Creek), No. 445 (Kookoosint) and No.1268 (Bay State). The Copper King and Clark Memorial campgrounds are closed. Please limit travel in the area.

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