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Blue fire

The Blue fire burns near Dixie, Idaho.

The Glacier Rim fire near Glacier National Park held steady at 85 acres Wednesday, while a larger fire located in eastern Idaho grew to 300 acres, threatening 50 homes.

Several fires sparked by Monday night’s lightning storms have come to life across the region, including three on the Lolo National Forest and nine on the Bitterroot National Forest.

Two of the starts on the Bitterroot Forest were reported Wednesday, but crews contained both incidents.

“Firefighters have responded to and extinguished 11 wildfires this summer on the Bitterroot,” said spokeswoman Joni Lubke. “All of the fires were kept under two acres in size.”

More than 170 lightning strikes were recorded on the Bitterroot Forest during the Monday storm, which followed a prolonged period of hot, dry weather.

The fire danger remains “very high” on the Bitterroot and additional starts are possible from this week’s storm. Temperatures of 101 degrees are forecast for Friday.

“We continue to have record-high indices for this time of year,” Lubke said. “On an average year, we wouldn’t see these dry conditions until early August.”

Those hot conditions helped the human-caused Glacier Rim fire take root last Saturday on the Glacier View Ranger District of the Flathead National Forest.

While the fire is located west of North Fork Road, officials said spotting has crossed east into Glacier National Park. Those spot fires have been fully extinguished.

The fire continues to burn within the perimeter, although a small area on its northern edge is not contained due to steep terrain and heavy timber.

Two residences near the fire voluntarily evacuated.

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The Blue fire on the Red River Ranger District of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest was also sparked by recent lightning and is now the region’s largest active fire.

More than 255 personnel were assigned to the blaze Wednesday and an alert notice was issued for residents in nearby Dixie.

“As long as the wind doesn’t increase, there shouldn’t be much new growth with the fire,” said public information officer Shoshana Cooper. “It’s not spreading in any particular direction. It’s creeping.”

Cooper said four crews have now established a spike camp and were attempting to access the fire in downed and heavy timber to establish a flank. A stage 1 ready protection alert has been issued to nearby residents and a public meeting was held in Dixie on Tuesday night.

“The notice just lets them know there’s fire in the area,” Cooper said. “The next stage means they should prepare to evacuate if needed.”

Cooper said there was no current estimation on containment.

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Boyd Hartwig, spokesman for the Lolo National Forest, said crews responded to three fires Tuesday and Wednesday, all of which were contained at less than half an acre. Two of those incidents were reported on the Missoula Ranger District and one on the Superior Ranger District.

A small fire was also reported near Bearmouth at Tyler Creek on Wednesday. Jordan Koppen, fire information officer for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, confirmed the incident, calling it a “small start.”

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