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Fish Creek fire grows nearly fivefold in past 24-hours

Heavy smoke covered the Fish Creek Valley Friday night- MTN photo(SUPERIOR)- The lighting-caused West Fork Fish Crew fire is now nearly five times the size it was Friday night, consuming nearly 12,000 acres, according to the latest maps. 

Fire managers say the blaze had blown up an additional 9,000 acres in the dry, windy and smoky conditions Friday evening, destroying 5-structures at the Forest Service administrative site. But so far, crews have been able to save all the private cabins and structures in the area. 

The Mineral County Sheriff's Office ordered evacuations Friday evening, and those orders remain in place tonight for all of Fish Creek Road from I-90 to the Mineral County-Missoula County border. Essentially the closure includes all of the Ninemile Ranger District south of the freeway. 

A Type 2 Incident Management Team took over the fire Friday evening, in advance of a cold front sweeping through the region that saw some of the higher elevation wind gusts approaching 60-miles per hour. A Type 1 hot shot crew, 2-engines, 2-watertenders and 2-aircraft are trying to protect structures in the valley. 

Crews are hoping to be able to use more helicopter water drops on the fire Sunday if smoke begins to lift as forecast. 

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