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2,500 Lightning Strikes Help Spark Five New Fires in the Bitterroot National Forest

Photo courtesy of Forest Service – Northern Region/Flickr

Despite all of the rain and humidity, a lightning storm on September 4 has kept fire crews busy in the Bitterroot National Forest.

“We had quite a lightning storm that came through on Wednesday night,” said Bitterroot National Forest Service Public Affairs Officer Todd McKay. “Most of the activity was south of Hamilton, kind of in the Darby/Sula area. In fact, our Bitterroot Dispatch Center recoded around 2,500 lightning strikes with that storm system.”

The system created five new fires, all of which were attacked quickly thanks to smoke reports from the public. McKay said that three of the fires were tackled by fire trucks, but that the others required crews to hike back into the woods. A helicopter was busy doing bucket work on one of the fires on Thursday.

None of the new fires were able to grow larger than a tenth of an acre, but a new batch of storms with more lightning and possible hail threaten to make the job of fire crews even tougher. McKay said even the wet weather is expected to go soon.

“Even with this moisture that we’re going to get, it’s not going to last for more than a few days,” McKay said. “It sounds like we’ll be back up, warm again, next week. So, those stage one fire restrictions remain in place and we just ask for the public’s help in keeping those human caused fires from happening.”

It has been almost a week since the last human caused fire in the Bitterroot National Forest. McKay said that the wet weather has helped limit the large Gold Pan Fire to only about 30 acres of new growth this week.

Todd McKay:

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