A fast-growing fire is burning in wilderness in the Lolo National Forest not far from Stevensville, according to fire Public Information Officer Katie Knotek.

“The Cinnabar Fire is located in the Welcome Creek Wilderness, which is in the Rock Creek corridor on the Missoula Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest,” said Knotek. “It's approximately 10 miles from the community of Stevensville, but on the other side, that’s the east side of the Bitterroot divide. We are estimating that it's currently at 2000 acres in size, and yesterday morning, it was at 90. So if that gives you a feel for how much it's grown in the last 24 hour period, it increased significantly yesterday.”

We do have a lot of downed and dead fuel for the fire, and it's also in an area of beetle killed timber too, which is also good fuel for a fire.

Knotek said there is plenty of fuel to feed the Cinnabar Fire.

“We do have a lot of downed and dead fuel for the fire, and it's also in an area of beetle killed timber too, which is also good fuel for a fire,” she said. “It's burning through an old fire scar, and so the conditions are just right, yesterday especially for it to be active.”

Knotek detailed the response to the fire as of 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

“There's currently 71 personnel assigned to the fire,” she said. There’s one hotshot crew, one type two hand crew, and five engines. We do not currently have any heavy equipment working on the fire. Yesterday, we did not have any assistance from a helicopter with bucket drops because we just don't feel that right now that's an effective strategy for the current fire situation.”

Due to complexity of the incident and location, a Type 2 Incident Command Team has been ordered for the fire and is expected to arrive on Wednesday. The entire Welcome Creek Wilderness, including all interior trails, is closed to public entry; including all National Forest System lands south of the Welcome Mountain Road.

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