MISSOULA, Mont. -

The following Thompson River Complex fire update was sent out by the Lolo National Forest.

Fires in the Thompson River Complex, fueled by high temperatures, strong winds and low relative humidity, grew in size yesterday.  After the Koo-Koo-Sint fires 1 and 2 grew together Wednesday, the Spruce Creek and Spruce fires also merged Thursday, reducing the number of fires in the complex from four to two, but increasing the total acreage from 601 to an estimated 819 acres by Thursday afternoon.  A total of 173 personnel are currently assigned to and working on the complex.

Private land and structures below the Koo-Koo-Sint fire continue to be assessed and plans devised in the event that the fire reaches the Clark Fork Valley floor, where other values at risk, including a high-voltage BPA powerline, Highway 200 and a railroad line are also located.  A total of 12 private structures and approximately eight outbuildings which could possibly be affected have been identified.  Planned activity today includes the construction of line around these private structures.

Helicopters used for water drops and crew transport, and retardant planes continue to support firefighter efforts on the ground.

Firefighter and public safety continue to be a major issue with this fire. For the firefighters, very steep, rugged, rocky terrain poses challenging work conditions and every effort is being made to keep crews out of harm’s way. For the public, rolling debris from the Koo-Koo-Sint fire, which could reach private property and/or Highway 200, is still a potential hazard.  The Montana Department of Transportation has posted large electronic reader-board signs east and west of that fire along Highway 200 warning passing motorists of possible rolling debris on the roadway.  The public is urged to not stop along the highway to look at the fire as that could pose a hazard to other motorists as well as to firefighting forces.

Several road and trail closures remain in effect and one more was implemented yesterday as Lolo National Forest officials closed down forest road No. 603 and all roads that feed into 603 in the West Fork of Thompson River drainage, where the Spruce fire is burning.  Forest trail Nos. 445 (Koo-Koo-Sint) and 1102 (Big Spruce) continue to be closed to the public.  Road No. 7668 was previously closed but falls within the 603 network of roads in the West Fork closure in any event.

A public meeting to discuss the Thompson River Complex was held at the Community Center in Thompson Falls last night, Aug. 7.