The Western News
It was a weekend of good progress on the Gold Hill fire north of Libby, beginning with the lifting of pre-evacuation notices on Friday and ending with a quarter-inch of rain on Sunday.
The fire’s size held at 6,523 acres, while containment increased from 28 percent on Friday to 45 percent on Monday, according to an incident report.
“[Sunday’s rain] helped to minimize fire behavior, limiting it to creeping and smoldering,” the report states. “No significant fire growth is expected. However, some smoke production is possible as sunshine returns.”
Much of the firefighters’ focus now is on suppression repair that “is designed to mitigate or eliminate environmental resource impacts caused by the fire suppression effort and to return the area to as natural conditions as possible.”
Such repairs include “removing berms on dozer lines to eliminate water channeling effects” to minimize soil erosion.
Fire crews on Monday were reportedly also continuing patrol and mop-up operations along Pipe Creek Road and along the southeastern, southern and western fire edges, and removing portable tanks and hoses from the fire’s northwest reaches.
Closures remain in effect, including Forest Service 755 and various other roads and trails.
Following a number of days during which traffic on Pipe Creek Road was routinely delayed, regular traffic flow was reinstated late last week, though a 25 MPH speed limit was posted between mile marker 13 and mile marker 17.
The weather forecast on Monday called for “a return to seasonable temperatures and humidity along with light winds and partly cloudy skies … [with] high temperatures in the 60s.”