A huge plume of smoke rising up from the Bitterroot Mountains south of Hamilton on Sunday was due to the Gold Pan fire, which was burning vigorously on the Idaho side of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

Late Sunday afternoon, fire crews were on the way to the blaze to assess the need for road closures in Magruder Corridor, said Shane Olpin, district fire manager officer.

Olpin estimated the fire to be a couple hundred acres in size, but until an aerial assessment can be made, the size of the fire is yet unknown.

Late Sunday afternoon, a new fire near Florence sparked to life.

What was called the Granite Creek Fire burned about 40 acres in grassy, rolling terrain near the Granite Creek area about eight miles east of Florence, said Cindy Super, fire protection coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Southwest Land Office.

Fire crews from all across the Bitterroot Valley responded to the call, along with DNRC and Forest Service support.

With the help of a helicopter making water bucket drops, the blaze was knocked back and controlled quickly, Super said.

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