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McClusky Fire Near Butte Swells Under Red Flag Weather

Smoke from the McClusky Fire seen from Halfway Creek Road on Sept. 4.
Smoke from the McClusky Fire seen from Halfway Creek Road on Sept. 4.

Yesterday’s hot, windy red flag weather spurred the McClusky Fire east of Butte to nearly triple in size.

Fire team spokesperson Kristin Sleeper says today’s weather has been more forgiving. But the 2,887-acre blaze in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest is expected to continue growing into the evening.

Firefighters are keeping track of further weather changes tonight heading into tomorrow, including potential gusty winds.

“Wind directions are obviously a big concern. But any change in weather is important as it relates to fire behavior and planned operational activity," she says.

Despite the wind, wet thunderstorms forecast tomorrow and Sunday should give firefighters a break. A tenth- to a quarter-inch of rain is expected tomorrow.

Sleeper says 85 people are working the lightning-caused fire, which was first reported August 16th. There are also eight engines, a water tender and a helicopter, with more personnel on the way.

Sleeper says rugged, snag-filled terrain makes the fire too dangerous to attack directly. Instead, firefighters are about halfway finished with a line off the fire’s perimeter.

Suppression measures have led to some Forest Service road closures, including a section of Whitetail Road. Sleeper says more closures are expected this weekend due to the Pipestone motorcycle race occuring on nearby Bureau of Land Management property.

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