Officials say relief is in the forecast Wednesday for crews battling wildfires in Montana and Idaho.

More than 42,000 lightning strikes were recorded in a 36-hour period between Sunday and Tuesday across the Northern Rockies, sparking new wildfires in a region already inundated with blazes.

Temperatures are expected to drop across the region Wednesday and Thursday, and rain is predicted, a help to firefighters in western and northern Montana.

One of Monday's lightning strikes ignited a fire that quickly spread to 2,000 acres in south-central Montana about five miles north of Laurel, Mont. The Canyon Creek wildfire briefly threatened 256 houses before the wind died and firefighters set up protection lines on its southern perimeter.

Officials say the lightning also started new wildfires in the Clearwater and Nez Perce national forests in Idaho.

There were at least three dozen active wildfires burning Tuesday in Idaho, Montana and northern Wyoming.

Associated Press