MISSOULA, Mont. - UPDATE: The Gold Pan Fire, burning in the Bitterroot National Forest south of Darby, grew to over 37,000 acres Sunday.
Fire managers tell us the blaze has now crossed Magruder Road in several places.
The area where the fire is seeing the most growth is in the southeast section, where it's expected to loop up and tie in with the Nez Pierce Fire.
Officials say they've focused most of their efforts on creating contingency lines around structures that could eventually be threatened.
Public Information Officer Kimberly Nelson said the blaze was hit with heavy winds yesterday and today.
She said wind temporarily knocked down the incident command post's phone lines.
We asked her if Sunday's rain was any help.
"We're really behind on our moisture levels," said Nelson. "A little bit of rain just puts a little bit of moisture on the fire's surface. We need a season ending event to really make a difference on slowing the progression of this fire."
The following is a press release from the Bitterroot National Forest:
The fire behavior yesterday was primarily creeping and smoldering until shortly after noon when it became active. Moderate spotting was observed and spots became easily established. Group tree torching and short uphill runs were observed. The eastern portion of the Gold Pan fire has backed into the bottom Blue Joint Creek drainage. It is anticipated that the north east portion of the Gold Pan fire, will reach the Magruder Road today. Primary fire behavior on the Nez Peak, Goat and Thirteen fires was creeping and smoldering. The fire is still active near Round Mountain with short crowning runs and spot fires.
Planned Actions: On Gold Pan fire, work will continue along roads keeping travel routes clear. Buildings have been wrapped and sprinkler systems are in place on bridges and other wooden structures. Crews will continue to prepare contingency lines ahead of the fire spread. Actions to slow the fire spread between current fire edge and contingency lines will be taken as opportunities allow. Air resources will be used on the leading edge of the fire in the Blue Joint drainage as well as other active areas as long as conditions permit. Goat Fire and Thirteen Fire remain in monitor status.
Closures: The Magruder Road closure area established by the Bitterroot National Forest remains in effect. Inciweb and the Bitterroot National Forest Website provide the up-to-date Forest Closure Map for specifics.
Weather: Thunderstorms are still possible over the next few days. As storms come through the area we may experience some higher gusts of wind. There is no significant long-term relief in the forecasted fire weather conditions.
Cooperating Agencies: Ravalli County Fire Warden, Painted Rocks RFD, West Fork RFD, Ravalli County Sheriffs Dept., Ravalli County Office of Emergency Management, and the American Red Cross.