Posted: Jul 24, 2013 6:53 PM by MTN News
Updated: Jul 24, 2013 6:54 PM
The Red Shale Fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness has now burned more than 2,400 acres, but forest officials say there is no hurry to put it out.
The fire has been burning since Thursday in the area just west of the North Fork Sun River; it's about 10 to 12 miles inside the wilderness and is not currently a threat to any private properties.
The location is full of standing dead timber and unusable areas to both animals and recreation, which is why the U.S. Forest Service sees the fire as part of the "natural cycle."
Dave Cunningham, spokesman for Lewis & Clark National Forest, said, "We're managing the fire for the benefits to the wilderness, consuming those fuels, making meadows for wildlife habitat, but we're also looking to manage it, to ensure that it doesn't go other places that we don't want it to go."
The fire is burning in upper Red Shale Creek, west of the North Fork Sun River, just over two miles west northwest of the Gates Park area in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
District fire managers flew over the area on July 23 and estimated the fire to be about 2,400 acres.
It is burning within the 1988 Gates Park Fire area, in heavy downed and standing dead timber and pockets of thickly regenerating lodgepole pine.
The fire is clearing much of the 2-to-3 foot high downfall and opening up the thick regrowth of lodgepole pine saplings that has blanketed the area following the 1988 fire.
The North Fork Red Shale Trail #130 was closed on Sunday, July 21 for public safety. On the afternoon of July 23 this closure was expanded to include all trails within the Sun River Game Preserve, located west of the North Fork Sun River from Rock Creek Trail #111 on the south to Sun River Pass on the north.
All forest visitors travelling in the backcountry are urged to use caution and be observant to changes in weather and fire behavior. There are no campfire restrictions in effect at this time.