Firefighters fully contained the West Fork Lolo 2 fire near Lolo Hot Springs on Tuesday and were homing in on the nearby Wagon Mountain fire on Wednesday.
"Cooperative weather and skilled efforts by firefighting resources led to 100% containment on the West Fork Lolo 2 fire and 60% containment on the Wagon Mountain Fire," an update from the Missoula Ranger District and Lolo National Forest said. "Resources will remain on scene throughout the weekend."
A closure order was issued Wednesday for the Lee Creek Campground and Lee Creek Road to the Lee Ridge Trail 295's junction with the Montana/Idaho border, then west and northwest to the junction of Highway 12.
The two lightning-caused fires, 4 miles apart, were discovered within an hour of each other Monday afternoon. Officials still listed the West Fork Lolo 2 fire burn at 4 acres, and the Wagon Mountain fire at approximately 15 acres.
While hot, dry weather prevailed throughout western Montana on Wednesday, the National Weather Service said thunderstorms could bring heavy rains and the potential of flash flooding on Friday and Saturday. Flooding is especially likely in burn scars and urban areas, it said.
The Horsefly fire east of Lincoln and the Snow Creek fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness both grew to more than 1,000 acres. The Horsefly was listed at 1,294 early Wednesday, while the Snow Creek north of Big Salmon Lake on the South Fork of the Flathead was set at 1,084.
In the meantime, efforts on the Beeskove fire north of Missoula include Wednesday's arrival of the Northern Rockies 5 Type 2 Incident Management Team led by Joe Sampson. The team was set to assume management of the fire at 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to a report from the Lolo National Forest.
The fire, which was ignited by lightning on July 23, was listed at 380 acres and was still restricted to the Rattlesnake Creek drainage. It remains 0% contained.
"Management will continue under a full suppression strategy. The fire is burning in rugged, remote terrain with mixed fuels that include beetle killed standing and downed timber and mixed conifers. These conditions prohibit the ability to attack the fire directly so work will continue indirectly by creating fuel breaks through hazardous fuel removal along accessible routes and natural fuel breaks," it said.
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Three hotshot crews, three Type 2 crews and six helicopters, along with heavy equipment, engines and water tenders are on the fire. Altogether, 285 people are fighting it.
New closure areas:
• Woody Mountain — Johnson Gulch area is now closed to recreational use.
• Sheep Mountain Trailhead is now closed along with access to the trailhead via East Twin Creek Road FS 2117 and Upper Twin Creek Road FS 2119.
• Mineral Peak Lookout is closed as well as access to the lookout via the East Fork Rattlesnake Road FS 2112 and Mineral Peak Lookout Road 2120.
• Upper Twin Creek/Sheep Mountain Spur Trail 505 is now closed.
Many areas in the Rattlesnake remain open like Sawmill Gulch and the Rattlesnake Wilderness. Additionally, the Woods Gulch trailhead and the Marshall Canyon area remain open. For additional closure information, contact the Missoula Ranger Station at 406-329-3814.