Rain on Friday allowed crews to make some progress battling the Beeskove fire in the Rattlesnake area north of Missoula, although pockets of heat within the perimeter were observed. The fire grew slowly throughout the weekend, covering 337 acres by Sunday afternoon.
On Friday night, the Beeskove Incident Command Post donated 90 hot meals to the Poverello Center after high winds canceled helicopter flights and dinner delivery to the fire crews camping overnight on Woody Mountain. Instead of letting the meals go to waste, Dennis Donovan, the fire’s Food Unit Leader, made arrangements to donate the meals of chicken, potatoes, carrots, green salad, cheesecake and milk to the center, according to a Sunday release from the Lolo National Forest.
Fire behavior was listed as minimal Sunday afternoon, with plans for crews and an excavator to construct indirect lines from Blue Point south toward the 2011 West Riverside burn scar and adjacent roads.
An increase in fire activity and smoke are anticipated over the next few days as slightly above average temperatures add to dry conditions. There are currently 247 personnel on the fire working to contain it under a full suppression strategy.
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The Rattlesnake Recreation Area remains closed. The main Rattlesnake Trail, trailhead and parking area will be also closed temporarily beginning Monday afternoon for road work in response to fire suppression traffic. The main trailhead and parking lot will reopen Wednesday morning.
Dave Williams, the incident commander for the Beeskove fire, told the Missoulian the fire is expected to burn east in the upcoming weeks with winds blowing predominantly from the southwest. Williams said more lines will be constructed to defend communities threatened in Bonner, Milltown and the upper Rattlesnake.
The Barren Hill fire in the Bitterroot also continued to burn in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area 17 miles SW of the Powell Ranger Station. The fire, which was caused by lightning and reported on July 1, has burned 554 acres to date. An update on InciWeb said it is likely the Barren Hill fire will be a long-term wildfire, possibly burning into the fall.
The Crab fire in the North Fork Spruce-White Sands Roadless Area 6 miles east of the Powell Ranger Station is also likely to be a long-term wildfire with the potential to burn for several weeks, according to InciWeb. The lightning-caused fire reported on July 26 has burned 93 acres to date and does not pose a risk to communities at this time.