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Firefighters deployed from remote helicopter landing fields made progress on the Thompson River Complex of four fires near Plains on Wednesday.

The Koo-Koo-Sint 1 and 2 fires remain the most active, according to U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Hamilton. The fires merged after strong, gusty winds drove them east Wednesday. With the increased growth the combined size is expected to be several hundred acres.

The Spruce 1 and 2 fires have been reduced to smoldering and creeping behavior on the north side of the complex, allowing managers to put more resources on the larger fires. The overall complex is considered 18 percent contained, with 152 people assigned. They are backed up by both helicopters and single-engine air tankers.

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The fire complex has kept forest trails No. 442 and 1102 closed, and continues to threaten a major power line, the Thompson River Road and Montana Highway 200. The risk of rolling debris falling on the highway has prompted Montana Department of Transportation officials to place warning signs along the roadway in the burn area. Motorists are asked not to stop or interfere with firefighting equipment and activity.

Closer to Missoula, the Sanders fire, two miles northeast of Point Six, remains under one acre and was 80 percent contained Wednesday afternoon. Four firefighters were conducting mop-up operations there.

The Telephone Butte fire seven miles north of Lolo Creek Campground was contained on Wednesday and its firefighters demobilized.

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com.

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