DARBY - Firefighters were scrambling Saturday on the 39,982-acre Gold Pan fire to chase two new lightning starts - one in Steep Creek, the other near Nick Wynn Mountain.
Fire managers said Friday was an unexpectedly busy day on the fire, burning 35 miles southwest of Conner in the Bitterroot National Forest and in Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.
Soon after the morning inversion lifted, fire behavior "quickly elevated, with single and group tree torching," according to Saturday's update from the fire camp. Then the two lightning-ignited fires made themselves known and the initial-attack effort was on.
That work continued throughout the day on Saturday, as well as work to eliminate burned snags along the Magruder Road. Those trees are being felled and chipped.
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In addition, a Type III incident management team led by Jeff Handel is assuming command of the Gold Pan, so spent Saturday shadowing the Type I team that has previously been responsible for the fire.
The fire continues to command the attention of 16 fire engines, four helicopters, three water tenders, a lineup of heavy equipment and 182 firefighters and support team members.
Because this fire is expected to continue burning until snow falls on the Bitterroot Mountains, the Bitterroot National Forest has a live webcam from which the public can watch the fire, choosing between two cameras. The photo updates every 15 minutes; the link for viewing is http://www.fs.usda.gov/bitterroot/. Click on quick links, below the Smokey Bear image, and select a camera.