As you drive north on US 93 through the valley, you notice a little less smoke, especially as you reach Lolo and Missoula. The reason is most of the smoke in the mid-valley is coming from the 9,500-acre Storm Creek Fire just over the border in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Idaho. That fire is approaching the Bitterroot National Forest.

Public Affairs Officer Tod McKay said the forest is starting Thursday to post local fire maps and daily updates throughout Ravalli County as the fire season continues. Florence - Gary and Leo's Grocery and Florence Post Office; Stevensville - Super One Foods, Burnt Fork Market, Stevensville Ranger Station; Victor Post Office; Corvallis Post Office; Hamilton - Bitterroot Chamber of Commerce next to Safeway parking lot, Big Creek Coffee and Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor's office.

Tuesday evening, July 27, a thunderstorm brought 66 confirmed lightning strikes. The fire patrols and the eight mountaintop fire lookouts will be looking for holdover fires. The most recent fires on the Bitterroot National Forest included:

  • The Coyote Coulee Fire south of Hamilton. Less than a tenth of an acre, a helicopter and an engine put out the lightning-caused fire Tuesday night.
  • The VFD Fires - Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department put out two lightning-caused fires late Tuesday and the Three Mile Volunteer Department put out a burn pile, which is not allowed under our current Stage 2 fire restrictions.
  • McKay said that all known fires reported have been extinguished on the Bitterroot National Forest. There was spotty rain from the Tuesday storm with about a quarter inch near Lake Como, but only .02 of an inch at Stevensville. So far there have been 35 wildfires on the Bitterroot National Forest - 13 human-caused and 22 lightning.

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