Three fires burning in the Sapphire Mountains east of Hamilton were very active Tuesday afternoon, sending up a large column of smoke visible across the Valley. The 41 Complex, as the three fires are known, is burning on the Darby Ranger District. All of the fires began on Sunday night and all were lightning-caused.
The fires are burning approximately 10 miles east of Hamilton and several miles northwest of the Gird Point Lookout. The largest fire is approximately 70 acres. The other two fires are approximately 50 acres each. Strong afternoon winds associated with a Red Flag warning led to very active fire behavior on all three fires. The fires are continuing to move to the east, away from Hamilton and private property. They are also burning in the direction of several old fires including the Gird Fire.
Three additional crews, including a type I ‘hotshot’ crew arrived Tuesday and have been busy constructing fireline. They have been assisted by 5 engines and 2 helicopters dropping water on hot spots. There are no structures threatened at this time.
41 Complex Fire information:
• Approximately 170 acres in size
• 5 engines total including 1 engine and water tender from the Hamilton Fire Department
• 2 helicopters doing water drops to cool hot spots
• Four crews – - approximately 80 firefighters assigned to the fire
A type III Incident Management Team from the Bitterroot National Forest and Hamilton Fire Department is managing the fire under a unified command structure. They are in the process of establishing a fire camp at this time. Gird Road #714 remains closed to provide for public and firefighter safety.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a new lightning-caused fire was discovered. It is also burning on the Darby Ranger District approximately three miles up Rye Creek Road. There are currently 20 firefighters, 1 engine, and 2 helicopters assigned to the 5 acre blaze. A single engine air tanker has also made several retardant drops to slow the fire’s spread.