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Miner Paradise Complex continues to grow

By Jordan Moore, KTVM Reporter, jmoore@ktvm.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:46:20 AM MST
Updated On: Aug 20 2013 10:18:11 PM MDT
EMIGRANT, Mont. -

Fire managers show when combined, the four fires in the Miner Paradise Complex grew by more than 8,000 acres. The Emigrant fire, the oldest fire of the four is by far the largest. It is now listed at 8,112 acres.

Another fire in the complex that is rapidly growing, the Sheep fire is now just under 500 acres.  The North Eightmile Fire is currently at 271 acres. The Horsetail Fire is the smallest; it is listed at 134 acres.

We headed to Emigrant to speak with people in the area to see how they feel about the nearby fires. Christopher Rudy has lived in the area near Emigrant for 20 years. He is no stranger to wildfire season in Montana.

"We have had fires in the valley before, it happens in August, but nothing like this," said Rudy.

As we looked over at the Emigrant Peak, he says the fire up there did bring back memories of last years destructive fire.

"The Pine Creek fire last year was horrendous," said Rudy.                   

He told us what was unsettling was how fast the fire grew, and the reality there were three other fires burning in the valley.

"It exploded here at Emigrant yesterday, it was like a cumulus cloud went up, almost looked like lightning inside of the cloud," said Rudy.

Other residents like Taylor Henson continue to watch the fire spread right before their eyes.

"The canyon was filled with smoke," said Henson.

We stopped by his restaurant in Emigrant where he showed us the picture he took on his phone Monday evening.

"Smoke kept coming out burning and burning all throughout until the sun went down," said Henson.

The smoke he was seeing was coming from the Emigrant Fire. It has now burned more than 8,000 acres.

We also spoke with several officials at the incident command post where they tell us they estimate the Emigrant Fire grew more than 6,000 acres in just five hours on Monday.

Jack Conner is part of an Incident Management team that has been here since Saturday. He took us to get a closer looks at both the Sheep and Emigrant fires.

"This is actually a fairly complex incident," said Conner.

He is talking about the combination of four different fires, burning in four different areas in the valley. Some with structures nearby, others fairly remote.

Conner says they will probably have to monitor these fires for a long time.

"Somebody will be watching these fires, could be through until the first snow flies," said Conner.

Back in Emigrant, Rudy says despite the tough outlook, he feels it's better for people not to panic but to be prepared.

"It is what it is. You watch and you are concerned and you pray for a weather change, some cooler weather or some rain," said Rudy.

Officials tell us the Emigrant is the biggest of the four fires they are dealing with in the complex. However because of homes and structures located in front of the Sheep fire, at this point that is their biggest concern.