Fires that started in July continue on in late August in Idaho and Montana. In this image, captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard the Aqua satellite on August 20, 2013, at least 20 individual fires, including several groups of fires (complex fires) can be seen burning in Idaho, 8 in Montana and four in Wyoming. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS thermal bands, are outlined in red.
The Gold Pan complex fire in eastern Idaho near the Montana boarder burns in the Bitterroot National Forest. It is seen in this image as four red hotspots with heavy smoke pouring eastward across Montana. It began on July 16, 2013 with a lightning strike. As of August 25, 35,043 acres have been consumed, and fire crews have not yet been able to contain the spread of the fire. Unfortunately the terrain in which the fire is being fought is extreme and the growth potential for this fire remains extreme as well.
The Lake Complex fire located just to the west of Gold Pan Complex was started August 14 with a lightning strike. Of the six fires that comprised the Lake Complex fire only two remain active. One fire, the Center Fire, has merged with the Lake Fire. The fire has burned 5,707 acres, which is relatively small, however the fire demonstrated extreme fire behavior early and grew to 3,372 acres by late August 18.
North of these fires, close to the Idaho-Montana border, the Lolo Creek Fire still rages in Montana. This fire began on August 18 with a lightning strike, but the complex, a combination of the West Fork 2 Fire, the Lolo Creek Fire, and the Schoolhouse Fire was created on August 19th. As of August 25, 10,567 acres have been burnt, and evacuation orders for some locations remain in effect. Although the fire is reported as 40% contained, with a full containment date anticipated of September 3, the fire and potential threats are still far from over. The northern edge of the fire, representing 40% of the fire perimeter is still free burning and is in difficult terrain with limited access and heavier fuels, as well as few escape routes and safety zones available to crews.