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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Firefighters Work To Keep Sawtooth Fire Away From Ross Creek Cedars

In far northwest Montana, about 85 homes remain evacuated due to the Napoleon fire. It’s part of what’s now being called the Clark Fork Complex of six fires straddling the Montana - Idaho border.

State Highway 56, which runs close to the Napoleon fire, is open but travel is discouraged because of thick smoke. Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel says there have been no additional evacuations since last week, and that his deputies are patrolling the evacuated area around the clock.

Fire Information Officer Glenda Scott says crews are working to keep the 9 square mile Napoleon fire contained within the Kootenai National Forest.

"We’ve done some good work to create a fuel break between the private land and the forest. They’re working to continue to strengthen that line so it could hold in a wind event, and hold it from moving to the north and to the south."

Burning to the north and west of the Napoleon Fire is the Sawtooth fire, which covers about three and a half square miles. Scott says the priority on that fire is keeping it from burning to the east, where it could cross into the Ross Creek Cedars Scenic area, just a couple of miles away.

"It’s a grove of thousand-year-old cedars, so it’s a very important place from that standpoint, so we’re trying to prevent the risk of the fire moving towards it."

Scott says that even though the Clark Fork Complex fires have burned over 10,000 acres, most of  the smoke that’s blanketing the region actually comes from fires in Idaho and Washington state.

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