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

Napoleon Fire Grows To 12 Square Miles On Kootenai N.F.

Firefighters mop-up hot-spots on the Clark Fork Complex.
Bill Rosch/Inciweb
Firefighters mop-up hot-spots on the Clark Fork Complex.

In far northwest Montana, the Clark Fork Complex of six fires continues to threaten homes near the town of Noxon. But fire managers now have a better picture of the challenges they face.

The thick smoke over the region cleared enough Wednesday night to let the Forest Service take high-altitude infrared images.

"That helped us plan on where we should put our resources, where the hotspots are,"

Fire Information Officer Bob MacGregor says the Napoleon fire, the largest one in the complex, is now over 12 square miles, and growing mainly to the south. Firefighters are working to stop it.

"They were trying to hold it on the Pillick Ridge Trail with hose lays. It has gotten across the ridge in one spot into the Gin Gulch area and they’re looking at how to delay it as it moves downhill," says MacGregor

People living along four miles of Highway 200, and parts of Highway 56, where the fire is approaching, have been warned to prepare for evacuation. Residents of 85 homes along Highway 56 were ordered to leave a week ago.

Fire managers are hoping cooler temperatures and thick smoke will help them get the upper hand on the fires, which are now just 25 percent contained.

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