Firefighters monitoring blaze near state line

Eleven firefighters are monitoring a new lightning-caused fire near the Montana state line in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, roughly 20 air miles from both Hamilton and Darby – approximately 48 miles due east of Lowell, or 45 miles northeast of Elk City.

Bitterroot National Forest fire management specialist Mark Wilson told NBC Montana that firefighters will be “looking for opportunities to try and cut the fire off before it comes over to this side” and said the Bitterroot National Forest is working on a long-term strategy to keep the fire from moving east.

The fire, called the Rock Point Fire, has grown to about 36 acres. It is burning in steep, rocky, inaccessible terrain on a south-facing slope about three miles west of the Montana border.

The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests have assigned 11 firefighters of the Selway Wildland Fire Module, who are “highly qualified in fire ground operations and can operate self-sufficiently in wilderness areas.”

As a precaution, an engine crew from the Bitterroot National Forest is performing structure assessment at Lost Horse, Mont., the closest settlement to the fire.

Smoke from the Rock Point Fire could continue to be visible from the Bitterroot Valley for most of the summer.

The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, one of the largest wilderness areas in the country, straddles the Idaho-Montana border.

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