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DARBY – Anyone wishing to drive the Forest Service roads or hike the trails near the 43,927-acre Gold Pan Complex fires southwest of Darby gained a little bit more access on Friday, as Bitterroot National Forest supervisor Julie King signed a condensed closure order that opened up some specific areas of the public lands that had been closed due to safety concerns.

The lightning-caused Gold Pan Complex is burning mainly in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho, but its eastern flank is burning in the Bitterroot Forest’s West Fork Ranger District in Montana.

On the west side of the fire, the closure boundary was pulled back to the Hells Half-Acre Road on the Magruder Corridor.

The Magruder Road is open, but motorists are advised to use caution because fire hazards still pose many risks, including falling snags or trees, rolling rocks and debris, burned-out stumps, limited visibility from smoke and flash flooding and mud flows, especially in areas without vegetation.

Forest Service trails 142, 32, 36, 37, 13, 705, 19, 73, 31, 4 and 67 are open. Fales Flat and Deep Creek Campground, as well as intermittent sites along Magruder Road, are open. The road to Paradise will be open on Saturday, Sept. 14.

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The Gold Pan fire has been seeing isolated torching and creeping fire behavior in the last few days, said Bitterroot National Forest spokesperson Joni Lubke in an email. The fire in Cayuse Creek is continuing to move north and northeast, and the fire east of Blue Joint Creek will continue to spread east toward Razorback Ridge. The fire will also continue to spread north up Jack the Ripper Creek toward Nez Perce Pass and Castle Rock.

Lubke said that with shorter days, expected higher relative humidity and periodic rain, fire managers predict this will minimize the fire spread until a season ending event occurs. Typically, a half-inch of rain over two or thee days has been enough to quell most wildfires.

On Friday, the West Fork Ranger District took over management duties of the fire from the Type 3 Incident Management Team that was there for the past few weeks. For more information, contact the West Fork Ranger District at 406-821-3269.

Reach reporter David Erickson at 363-3300 or david.erickson@ravallirepublic.com.

Reporter David Erickson can be reached at david.erickson@ravallirepublic.com.

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