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UPDATE: Fire Near Superior Grows To 6.5 Square Miles; Structures Threatened

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SUPERIOR, Mont. (AP) - Crews battling the West Mullan Fire have made good progress in keeping it from burning into Superior, but some structures still remain threatened on the northwestern part of the blaze.
    
Fire information officers say the fire, which started Sunday, had burned an estimated 4,550 acres, or just over seven square miles, by Friday morning.
    
Fire information officer Greg DeNitto says he thinks the residents of Superior are resting a little easier now that crews have about 6 or 7 miles of fire line along the southwestern edge of the fire, parallel to the Clark Fork River.
    
Work Friday will include efforts to prevent the northwestern edge of the fire from burning across Keystone Creek and getting the southeastern edge of the fire to burn fuels down to a fire line near Flat Creek.

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The Missoulian reports a stubborn branch of the 4,150-acre fire reached the doorstep of several homes in northern Superior and threatened a cluster of businesses, including two local bars and a bank, along with an auto parts store and a lumber yard.

The fire's growth near the Lolo National Forest forced new evacuation orders Thursday at Keystone and LaVista roads. All of Superior north of the Clark Fork River was shuttered, as evacuation orders issued Wednesday remained in effect. The river itself was closed from the Big Eddy fishing access to the Slowey Campground.

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MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - The Mineral County sheriff's office issued more evacuation orders Thursday afternoon as temperatures rose and the humidity decreased on the West Mullan fire burning north of Superior.
    
Fire officials say at least 100 residences have been evacuated since the fire started on Sunday.
    
Strong winds Wednesday afternoon helped push the fire from 1,800 acres to an estimated 3,650 acres, or 5.7 square miles by Thursday.
    
No traffic is being allowed north of the Clark Fork River in Superior.
    
Fire information officer Greg DiNitto says the northeastern part of the fire had burned very near the Bonneville Power Administration power line, but reportedly had not crossed it.
    
No structures have been lost.
    
The American Red Cross set up an emergency evacuation center at Superior Elementary School.

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MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Strong winds accompanying a storm Wednesday afternoon forced fire managers to pull firefighters off the West Mullan fire burning north of Superior.
    
Fire information officer Pat McKelvey says the fire didn't receive any moisture Wednesday afternoon or evening, but the wind helped push the fire from 1,800 acres to 3,600 acres, or about 5.6 square miles.
    
The fire moved northeast toward the Bonneville Power Administration line.
    
More than 50 homes remained under evacuation and Mineral County officials put more residents on ore-evacuation notice.
    
More crews arrived to help the firefighting effort and crews pulled off the lines were expected to return Thursday morning.
    
The Mineral County Fairgrounds has been opened to house animals and livestock, but owners are responsible for food and water.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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