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Strong winds and dry conditions could be the cause of rapid growth of the Goose fire burning south of Ennis, which doubled in size over the weekend.

The fire has grown to 3,326 acres. The fire — which has been burning since July 1 — moved north, toward the southern tip of Cliff Lake. The National Weather Service put the fire area under a Red Flag warning throughout Sunday due to low relative humidity and strong gusting winds.

The increase in the fire’s size caused the evacuation and closure of Wade Lake, Hilltop and Cliff Point campgrounds due to increased fire activity. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest announced Monday morning the area closures of the Antelope Prong boat launch in addition to the campgrounds.

Officials determined lightning caused the fire.

Alexandra Schwier, spokesperson for the Goose fire, said that a pair of helicopters would be dumping water on the northern part of the fire.

“The main work today is cutting fire progression to the north,” Schwier said Monday.

Two Type 1 hot shot crews and one Type 2 initial attack crew were fighting the fire in addition to the helicopters, with a rough total of 60 firefighters in the three crews. Schwier added that hand crews would be putting down water lines on the northern edge of the fire Monday.

Officials on the ground are reporting a 1% containment for the Goose fire, Schwier said. So far, the blaze has cost $1.2 million to suppress.

The Goose, Alder Creek and Trail Creek fires over the weekend experienced a low relative humidity in the lower teens, Trent Smith of the National Weather Service office in Missoula said. In combination with strong wind gusts averaging at around 30 miles per hour, a red flag warning was issued through Sunday night.

Forecasters predict it will continue to be hot and dry throughout this week, but that strong gusting winds would not be as constant, Smith said. There is also the chance for increased cloud coverage — and potential thunderstorms — that could help lower temperatures.

The Trail Creek fire, about 20 miles west of Wisdom, was identified July 8 and grew to 1,900 acres as of Monday morning. Officials determined that lightning caused the fire.

The Alder Creek fire is roughly 8 miles west of Wise River, according to Inciweb, an online wildfire information service. That fire has grown to 500 acres since it was identified July 8. Both the Trail Creek and Alder Creek fire are planned to transition to a Type 1 incident command Tuesday.

The Wilderness Edge, a cabin rental business, is just outside of the Goose fire closure area, on the east side of Cliff Lake. Owner Mark Homner said that though the Goose fire may appear to be close, it still has some distance to travel before it will affect him or his business.

Homner said his main concern is the wind catching embers and throwing them onto his side of the lake, creating spot fires. He added that there was no fire on his side of the lake so far.

“We’re not going anywhere,” Homner said. “How we’re set up here, we’re really defensible.”

This story was updated Tuesday morning to reflect new acreage totals for the fires.

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Alex Miller is the county and state government reporter and can be reached at or by phone at 406-582-2648.

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