Southwest Montana Sees Over 24 Fire Starts in One Week, Approximately Seven Were Human Caused
The air around Missoula may be filled with smoke during the second week of August, but most of that is from Idaho, not Montana. Chris Johnson of the Lolo National Forest says that local crews have been able to keep fire starts down thanks partly to higher humidity, however, there have been multiple opportunities for a bigger blaze.
"Over the course of the last week and a half, there have been approximately two dozen starts in the area: on the Lolo and Bitterroot National Forests and on DNRC lands," Johnson said. "About a third of those have been human caused."
The human caused fires started for various reasons, but the most risky were those started by illegal campfires.
"Speaking for the Lolo National Forest, breaking that CFR carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine," said Johnson. "In addition, that's just the penalty for breaking that CFR, the person that lit that fire could also be held responsible for the cost of suppression."
Southwestern Montana is currently under a “Very High” fire danger warning. Johnson says higher temperatures this week and winds this weekend could make firefighting even harder.