Unexpected winds on Sunday afternoon forced crews off the Beaver Creek fire burning northwest of Pintler Lake.

The lightning caused fire grew to 75 acres after winds pushed it into the Beaver Creek drainage inside the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest.

Spot fires were popping up almost a half-mile ahead of the fire after winds picked up, said Arlee Staley, public information officer for the Beaver Creek fire.

“We’ve pulled the resources off the fire for safety reasons,” Staley said.

However, three helicopters were working to fight the fire Sunday evening.

The fire is is burning in steep terrain full of beetle-killed trees. Crews that were flown in earlier this weekend remain in the incident area. Two crews from Canada have arrived but have not yet been flown to the area, Staley said.

“It was hot and dry again today. The wind was not supposed to be quite as bad as it turned out to be,” Staley said.

The Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest trails No. 2037 and No. 3368 are closed due to the Beaver Creek fire.

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail remains open, as does the Pintler Lake campground, Staley said.

“Tuesday there may be some moisture,” she said. “We’re hoping for some moisture, but we don’t know how much or what.”


The Nez Perce fire burning nearby in the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho grew slightly Sunday to 65 acres.

The fire is burning in grass and timber and is near Nez Perce Creek.

The Nez Perce fire has caused the closure of portions of several trails, including a section the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, beginning at Big Hole Pass to the junction of Highway 43.

The West Fork Nez Perce Creek Trail from Forest Road No. 6079 to its end at the junction of Trail No. 6106 is closed, as is Forest Road No. 6081 from its junction with Highway 43 to its end.


Crews fighting the 10,902-acre Lolo Complex fire continued to demobilize Sunday and it was expected that the fire west of Lolo would be fully contained by Tuesday.

It was 90 percent contained Sunday evening.

A tenth-of-an-acre “hold-over lightning fire” south of the complex fire was doused Sunday morning by a helicopter crew.

The Lolo Complex fire was started by smaller fires Aug. 18 and eventually destroyed five homes in the area.

“We haven’t had any new information this afternoon. Crews are continuing to do repair work on fire lines,” said Megan Nemitz, public information officer for the Lolo Complex fire.

A Type III Incident Management Team will replace the Type I team working the fire Monday evening, Nemitz said.

The fire closed U.S. Highway 12 for several days. The road is now open, but travelers are limited to 45 mph from milepost 20 to 32, with no stopping or parking alongside the highway until further notice.

The portion of Blue Mountain Recreation Area closed by the fire is now open.

Fort Fizzle, Earl Tennant Campground and Lolo Creek Campground remain closed.


In the Lolo National Forest, a set of fires sparked by lightning grew together to form the Harry Complex fire, which had grown to 30 acres by Sunday evening.

It’s burning about 13 miles south of Interstate 90 in the Rock Creek drainage and about two miles east of Rock Creek Road.

“They’re trying to keep it out of the drainage,” said Boyd Hartwig, spokesman for the Lolo National Forest.

The fire caused the closure of Cinnamon Bear Trail No. 93 from the trailhead to Rock Creek Road National Forest System road No. 102. It has also closed Cinnamon Bear Point Trail No. 346.

The remote three-acre Point Six fire about 1 mile northeast of Point Six is also burning in the Lolo National Forest.

It’s currently burning in a thin string of timber surrounded by rocks. Crews were working Sunday to keep it from running down the rocky slope into a thicker timbered area in the valley bottom, Hartwig said.

The Point Six fire was sparked by lightning.

As of Sunday evening, neither the Point Six nor Harry Complex fire were threatening structures.

Crews working on the Gold Pan fire burning southwest of Conner in the Bitterroot National Forest worked Sunday to contain two smaller starts caused by lightning as a Type III Incident Management Team assumed control of the fire.

The fire has burned more than 39,000 acres and isn’t expected to be fully contained until the area experiences an season-ending event.

Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at jenna.cederberg@missoulian.com.