Updated 5:45 p.m., July 25.
The two-day-old Beeskove Fire in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area north of Missoula grew from less than an acre to roughly 35 acres overnight.
Several trails were closed today, including the main Rattlesnake Creek Trail, East Fork Rattlesnake Trail, Mineral Peak Trail, Rattlesnake Horse Trailhead and portions of the Sheep Mountain Trail.
Crews had a containment line around the fire, which is 4.5 miles up the main Rattlesnake travel corridor on the south side of Rattlesnake Creek. Forest Service spokesman Tod McKay says conditions then took a turn.
"Everyone felt really good until yesterday about 5:30 when some burning debris came down and rolled outside of those containment lines, started several new fires. And with the winds yesterday, which were estimated at 40 mph, the fire took off and quickly grew."
McKay says 70 people are now fighting the lightning-caused fire. Three helicopters have been dumping buckets of water to assist ground crews on a steep, rocky slope.
McKay says firefighters are concerned by afternoon winds and hot, dry weather. However, there aren’t any lightning storms expected in the near future.
Fire officials say more resources, including an additional hotshot team, will arrive within the next day.
The Beeskove Fire is moving northeast away from Missoula. McKay says this year’s relatively delayed fire season has allowed for ample resources to fight the blaze.
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