MISSOULA — The Black Bear fire west of Alberton has moved into territory that previously burned in 2005, allowing crews to reach 60 percent containment Wednesday.
The lightning-caused fire has burned 80 acres and hasn’t grown much since Tuesday, according to Lolo National Forest spokesman Boyd Hartwig.
“They’re reinforcing some of the hand line today,” Hartwig said Wednesday afternoon. “They’re not getting inside the perimeter much because there’s a big snag hazard there.”
Smoke can be seen from Interstate 90 as the fire works through cheatgrass and scattered ponderosa pine timber in the ridges west of town. A crew of 60 backed up with a helicopter for water drops is working in steep terrain.
“When it started, we thought it was a fire we could contain with three or four folks,” Hartwig said. “But once the wind got on it, it really took off.”
Hartwig said several small fires were also burning in the Ninemile, Seeley Lake and Missoula ranger districts, but all were submitting to small initial attack teams.