Thunderstorms Thursday, July 1, started five small fires on the Bitterroot National Forest, according to Tod McKay in a wildfire update Friday afternoon. Response to the fires was quick. Four of the fires were south of Darby. The forest is under a "full suppression" strategy. No structures were threatened Friday and some of the fires (a quarter-acre or smaller) were already extinguished.

The largest fire is the Woods Creek Fire in the upper West Fork, above Painted Rocks Reservoir, south of Razorback Mountain. The Friday size estimate was 20 acres. Initially, 10 firefighters, two engines and a helicopter responded. Another 20-person initial attack crew and another engine were en route.

McKay noted 100 confirmed lightning strikes across the forest, as partially shown in the map above. And, crews, including the eight mountain top lookouts, will be monitoring for possible "hold-over" fires this weekend. There was rainfall, too. In some areas, almost a half inch of rain was reported. However, in the south end of the valley and through most of the Bitterroot National Forest, much less rain fell. So far this year, there have been 10 lightning fires and 11 human-caused fires on the Bitterroot National Forest.

Fire danger in the Bitterroot is "High." And Ravalli County has closed the Open Burning season. Again, be sure your campfire is dead out when you leave your campsite, don't take any fireworks into the woods, keep your vehicle on established roads and don't park on dry grassy areas. Also, check that chain attached from your car to a trailer. Make sure it isn't low enough to cause sparks along the road. Keep up-do-date with the Bitterroot National Forest Facebook page.

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