MISSOULA, Mont. -

The following is a press release from the Bitterroot National Forest:

The Bitterroot National Forest has expanded the Closure Area around the fire to include the following areas: South of Watchtower Lake and the Boulder Creek Trail (#617), west of Painted Rocks Reservoir and North of Woods Creek Pass.  The road block on the east end of Magruder Road has been moved from Fales Flat to the Krueger Ranch (approximately 3 miles west of the intersection with the West Fork Road), the road closure remains at Observation Point on the west end.  Look on Inciweb for an updated Forest Closure Map. 

The Gold Pan Complex increased in acreage by 40% on Friday, the majority of the growth occurring on the Gold Pan fire.  That fire was pushed by southwest and westerly winds that in combination with 90 degree temperatures and 9% relative humidity created optimal conditions for fire escalation.  The fire crossed the Hells Half Acre Road just to the south of Vance Saddle and continued for a mile further east.  The spot on the north side of Magruder Road, near the old CCC Camp, that was first detected on Thursday afternoon became well established on Friday and expanded around the Old Warriors Face landmark.  The fire also grew north of Kim Creek Saddle in the East Fork Creek drainage.  Crews worked to keep the Magruder Road open for firefighting equipment (it remains closed to the public) and did suppression work on the spot north of the road until extreme fire behavior threatened to compromise their safety.   

The Nez Peak fire also moved to the east on Friday, staying up on the ridge and wrapping around a previously created helibase.  Helicopter bucket drops of water slowed the progress of the fire and it remains a mile to the west of the State Line/Wilderness Boundary.  This fire is now approximately 280 acres in size.  The Nez Peak Fire was first detected Wednesday and is on the northeast side of Nez Perce Peak two miles northwest of the intersection of the Magruder Road and Hells Half Acre road.  The Thirteen fire, eight miles south of the Gold Pan fire near Thirteen Mountain, remained at one acre and is being monitored from the air.  The Goat fire grew slightly to 14 acres but it and the Thirteen fire are still being constrained by rocky terrain and the fire scar of the 2012 Mustang fire.  The Goat fire is on the east side of Goat Mountain and is also being monitored by aerial resources.

Crews continued to work on the contingency lines well to the east of the fire.  Hand crews, a feller-buncher and engines are all involved in this work to strengthen this line and improve structure protection.

Today’s weather will be slightly improved in favor of firefighting efforts but will still present conditions that could sustain fire growth.  High temperatures will only be in the mid-80s and humidity will be in the teens.  Winds speeds will be less today on Friday but will still be steady from the southwest and west at 5 to 10 mph.  There is a slight chance of thunderstorms developing in the afternoon.

A public meeting was held at the West Fork Ranger Station on Friday night with an excellent attendance of over 60 people.  Speakers addressed topics including the present state of the fire, the long term prognosis and how to prepare for possible evacuations.  Our Team and the Bitterroot National Forest would like to thank all attendees for their polite attention and well thought out questions.

Closures: An emergency closure order is in place for all Forest Service roads and trails within and surrounding the fire.  View the closure order/map at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3538/.  There is also a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the fire.  For the latest fire information/photos go to: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3538/   Stay in touch with the Bitterroot National Forest through  www.facebook.com/DiscoverTheBitterroot    and www.twitter.com/BitterrootNF.  Email Goldpan13@gmail.com to receive this information electronically.  For information about preparing for potential evacuations see: http://rc.mt.gov/content/sheriff/documents/EmergencyEvacuation and www.Redcross.org/safeandwell .  For instructions on making defensible space around your home see: http://www.firewise.org/