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Crown Mountain fire more than doubles to 818 acres

Crown Mountain Fire_October 6.jpg

A column of smoke comes off the Crown Mountain fire Wednesday evening. The photo was taken from state Highway 435 looking southwest toward the fire. 

The Crown Mountain fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex 16 miles west of Augusta more than doubled overnight and is now at 818 acres, forest officials said Thursday.

The fire started Oct. 4 within the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. Its cause remains under investigation. The fire, reported at 300 acres Wednesday, is 0% contained.

Gusty winds, unseasonably high temperatures and dry conditions have resulted in active fire behavior and dangerous firefighting conditions for direct attack on the fire, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The conditions forced air and ground crews to disengage from the fire Tuesday and Wednesday. This fire is burning within portions of the footprint of the 1988 Canyon Creek fire, officials said. The fire is burning in steep, rugged terrain and fueled by regenerated Lodgepole pine and heavy stands of Douglas fir. It is  still  between the Petty and Moudess creek drainages and the newest growth was primarily to the south and the east.

Fire personnel installed point protection on threatened ranches adjacent to the forest boundary in Smith Creek and are positioned to add point protection to aid threatened recreational cabins and ranches in the Benchmark corridor. This includes the Double Falls area and around the Ford Creek Guest Ranch.   

The Forest Service said it continues a full-suppression strategy focusing on point protection of threatened ranches and recreational residences.

Assistant editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.

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