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Firefighters Battle 35-Acre Wildfire Near Rexford

90 firefighters are battling the South Fork Hill Fire southwest of Rexford

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– South Fork Hill Fire has burned 35 acres southwest of Rexford

– Ninety firefighters, including the Chief Mountain Hot Shots, have been deployed

– No structures are threatened at this time

Updated: July 5, 3 p.m.

Nearly 100 firefighters have been deployed to a remote area on the west side of Lake Koocanusa to battle a 35-acre wildfire 12 miles southwest of Rexford.

Bryan Donner, district ranger for the Kootenai National Forest, said the South Fork Hill Fire was first reported late Monday and it quickly burned 35 acres in the Lookout Creek Drainage. As of Wednesday morning, crews had built containment line around most of the blaze, although spot fires remain a concern, Donner said.

“Right now our focus is identifying and containing spot fires that are jumping from the main fire,” Donner said.

There are no structures threatened at this time, Donner said.

Donner said the fire was most likely sparked by a lightning storm that moved through the area late last week.

As of July 5, the South Fork Hill Fire is the only major blaze in Northwest Montana, but Donner said officials are ready to respond to any other lightning-caused fires that may be smoldering in the region.

A Type III incident management team is battling the blaze, along with three hand crews and local firefighters. Helicopters are being used to drop water on the blaze as needed.

On June 30, fire danger in the Flathead Valley was raised to moderate because of below average rainfall in June and a forecast calling for hot and dry weather over the next week. The National Weather Service is predicting a heat wave will begin Wednesday with temperatures in the low to upper 90s. Above-average temperatures are expected to last through July 9.

This story will be updated when more information becomes available.