Firefighters on the Lolo National Forest are using helicopters to quell spot fires along the southwest perimeter of the Alder Creek fire this afternoon, knowing that the weather forecast calls for winds up to 40 mph.
In addition, they are digging a hand line on the north end of the fire perimeter to completely secure the north end by tying into an old 2,000-acre burned area.
Fire managers expect strong southerly winds this evening to produce active burning that will test the northern fireline.
Retardant may also be used on the southwest and north ends of the line in preparation for the front, which could bring ridgeline winds of up to 40 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
The cold front arriving today will bring winds initially from the south that will shift later from the southwest.
Because of high temperatures and windy conditions visible smoke and burning is expected to continue today from spot fires and from unburned fuel on the north end of the fire where a burnout operation began two days ago. The largest spot fire is estimated at about one-quarter acre.
A road closure for Road No. 4267 on the Lolo National Forest was extended today for public safety. The revised closure closes the road from Ambrose Saddle to the north, south to Sawmill Saddle.
The total burned area for the fire has increased to 615 acres due to spot fires and the increased burning on the north end. Please see closure information on Inciweb.org for details on the closure.
The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning from 2 p.m. to midnight because of the strong winds and low humidities.
The warning affects all of western Montana: the Kootenai, Flathead, Glacier National Park, Lolo National Forest, Flathead Indian Reservation, Bitterroot National Forest, and the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest.
Relative humidities will drop to between 8 percent and 15 percent. There is the potential for plume development on active fires.
The red flag warning is intended to alert land managers and residents that weather conditions will dry fuels significantly, thereby increasing the wildfire danger.
Keep checking with Missoulian.com throughout the afternoon for updates as the weather system moves into western Montana - and for the latest news and sports.