Fire crews were able to make steady progress in buttoning up lines on the West Mullan fire on Sunday.

With daytime temperatures pushing 90 degrees and a light wind, the fire produced a lot of single-tree crowning and some spotting, said Peri Suenram, a fire information officer.

The northwest flank of the fire is threatening the BPA powerline.

The approximate size of the fire is 5,880 acres – up from Saturday’s count of 5,230 acres – and the growth is due to burnout operations that crews conducted to help secure and hold containment lines, Suenram said.

The West Mullan fire remains 35 percent contained. Area closures remain in place, but most of the families in the 150 homes that were evacuated last week were back in their homes on Sunday. On Monday, the Red Cross will close its evacuation center at Superior Elementary School.

West Mullan Road is open to the public east of Sunflower Lane. West of Sunflower Lane is open to residents only. Flat Creek Road is open within the Superior city limits and East Mullan Road is open to everyone.

The Big Eddy fishing access is closed to the public while firefighting aircraft use the site. Also, the Clark Fork River remains closed to the public from Big Eddy fishing access to Sloway Campground.


Northeast of Missoula, the Gold Creek wilderness fire remains at 170 acres and is 40 percent contained.

The fire is burning near the Rattlesnake Wilderness, Lolo National Forest and Flathead Reservation boundaries.

Crews were able to make steady progress quelching the blaze, which is burning in spotty patches and in sub-alpine fir, said Mariah Leuschen, fire information officer.

The western flank of the fire in the Rattlesnake Wilderness has burned down to the Cold Creek Trail, and crews were able to get fire hose into the area, secure the fire line, and begin mop-up procedures.

High temperatures and dry conditions on Sunday prompted some fire activity of single-tree torches and intermittent ground surface fires, Leuschen said.

“There are a lot of unburned patches of fuel, especially on the eastern flank,” she said.

Grounds crews were assisted with helicopter support as needed, and it will be a few days before ground crews get fire line around those spotty patches of burning fuel.

Several closures in the area remain in place.

Gold Creek Trailhead and West Fork Gold Creek Trailhead are closed. The closure extends to all areas west of Gold Creek Road, north of Trail No. 52 (Primm Lake Trail) and east of the Main Rattlesnake Recreation Corridor. Trail No. 504 (Porcupine Ridge Trail) is closed.

Trail No. 52 and trails south of the Rattlesnake vicinity are open, and so is Trail No. 515, which borders the headwaters of Rattlesnake Creek.

Other closures include: Forest Road No. 126, which will remain closed at Cow Creek Gate, and the West Fork of Gold Creek Trailhead, Road No. 4323 at the junction of Road No.2103.


In Salmon, Idaho, the lightning-caused Papoose Fire had torched 6,470 acres by Sunday evening.

Burning in grass, brush and small stands of timber, the fire is in rugged, inaccessible terrain above the Middle Fork Salmon River.

Firefighters are patrolling the river corridor by boat to assess campsites between Big Creek and Goat Creek, according to Mike McMillan, information officer with the Salmon-Cobalt District Ranger Station.

Boaters are checking in at the Flying B Ranch to coordinate with forest personnel to receive camp and fire information. Boaters are asked to be flexible regarding space sharing and possible campsite reassignments.

The Salmon-Challis National Forest has closed four wilderness trails on the North Fork Ranger District because of safety hazards associated with the Papoose Fire:

• South Fork Waterfall Trail (Forest Trail #6019), beginning at the junction with Waterfall Trail (Forest Trail #6045) to its end.

• Waterfall Trail (Forest Trail #6045), beginning at the junction with Middle Fork River Trail (Forest Trail #6044) to the confluence of the trail and the outlet of Terrace Lakes (where the trail crosses headwaters of Waterfall Creek.)

• Stoddard Lake Trail (Forest Trail #6140) beginning at Stoddard Creek Point at the junction with Stoddard Trail (Forest Trail #6169) to its junction with Forest Trail #6168.

• Stoddard Trail (Forest Trail #6169) beginning at the confluence of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and the Salmon River, to its end at the junction with Forest Trail #6168.

• Payette National Forest officials have closed part of the Big Creek Trail (Forest Trail #196) at the confluence of Big Creek and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River to Taylor Ranch.

• Payette National Forest officials have closed Goat Creek Trail (Forest Trail #053).

For closure maps, fire updates and photos, visit http://inciweb.org.

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Reporter Betsy Cohen can be reached at 523-5253 or at bcohen@missoulian.com.

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