ELK RIVER - Winds out of the west cleared some smoke over the fires of the Cougar Rock Complex on Wednesday, resulting in limited fire growth on the Scott, Benton Ridge, and Benton Nob fires, say officials.
The combined area of the 14 fires has reached 5,160 acres, and was 25% contained as of Thursday morning. The fires are burning mainly to the east and northeast of Elk River.
With the clearer air and improved visibility, helicopters were able to fly and support firefighters working on the flare ups. Reinforced by air support, crews worked with hand tools to dampened down the fires where access and terrain allowed. In other areas of the fire, officials say great progress has been made on securing and widening the containment lines. As of Thursday morning, only five of the fourteen fires in the Cougar Rock Complex have grown since Wednesday.
Fire behavior specialists say the smoke coming from fires that are out of region has dissipated and most of the smoke lingering is from fires burning locally. The specialists add that the while the recent rains moistened the fine fuels, there was not nearly enough rain to really help the fire situation.