Fire near Superior grows to 1,800 acres


MISSOULA, Mont. - Fire officials tell NBC Montana their primary concern in fighting the West Mullan Fire near Superior is the possibility that burning logs could roll down the hill, sending the fire toward the Clark Fork River.

The fire that started Sunday quickly spread to 700 acres by Monday night. By Tuesday night the blaze more than doubled in sized to around 1,800 acres. We're told the fire is 15 percent contained.

Fire managers have been holding informational meetings to keep Superior residents informed on how fire containment is coming along.

Tuesday night a meeting was held on the Mineral County courthouse lawn where air quality officials warned residents to be cautious about how much time they spend outside.

They say the fire is producing so much smoke that health risks could be an issue. Officials urge the elderly, younger folks and people with breathing problems to minimize how much time they spend outside.

More mandatory evacuations were put in place Tuesday morning for homes between Pardee Creek and Jim Gulch, adding to the 30 homes that were evacuated Monday.

Areas already under mandatory evacuation include: Pardee Creek, East Pardee and Flat Creek (outside of the city limits).

At Tuesday's meeting fire officials said they are concerned that the fire could jump the ridge to an area just north of Superior, at the Flat Creek drainage area. That area is under watch.

Tuesday NBC Montana caught up with a few residents who have been placed under mandatory evacuation, but say they aren't leaving.

Longtime Superior resident Scott Guntle tells NBC Montana despite the fact that he was given an evacuation notice, he's not leaving.

"The sprinklers have been running all day long and in the springtime I did a lot of back-burning because

I always know there's a threat being this close," said Guntle. "We've got a nice green field here -- or my neighbor does -- and the river is close so it would take a lot for me to go."

Guntle tells us he and his family have been watching the flames since they first sparked on Sunday. He says he is worried about a shift in wind bringing the blaze closer to his house, but overall he still says he's not leaving.

"I have the right to stay here and defend my home," he said.

Fire bosses tell NBC Montana they are worried about gusty winds forcing them to ground their air effort and they tell us they are hopeful the area will get a little rain from a thunderstorm expected Wednesday.

The American Red Cross has set up an emergency shelter at the Superior Elementary School and is open 24/7.

For more information about the shelter or for directions, click here.

The emergency shelter does not allow pets, but pet boarding is available at the fairgrounds in Superior.