Lightning sparks several small fires in the Bitterroot

Posted at 6:50 PM, Aug 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-12 20:50:34-04

HAMILTON – Firefighters are battling seven new wildfires that were sparked by lightning on Saturday.

Bitterroot National Forest spokesman Tod McKay says a quick response by fire crews and aviation resources have helped to keep, all of the fires — all are less than an acre in size. 

The blazes are located on the Darby/Sula Ranger District, in the Sapphire Mountains east/northeast of Connor. The largest fire (Cameron) is ¾ of an acre and is staffed with nine firefighters.  It is currently controlled.  All other fires are .10 acre in size.       

McKay says five fires are currently contained or out while the other blazes are expected to be contained by Monday at the latest.

There are currently 23 firefighters, and two helicopters assigned to the blazes which are being actively suppressed, under a full suppression strategy.  One medium helicopter assisted with bucket work on numerous fires to limit spread until firefighters could reach them. 

Smokejumpers have been ordered and are in route to a small fire (Shadow) that is currently burning on the border of the Bitterroot & Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests.      

McKay notes that there were more than 35 confirmed lightning strikes on the southern end of the forest on Saturday afternoon.  Fire crews also responded to and put out two illegal campfires on Saturday night.  

The fire danger remains at "extreme" on the Bitterroot National Forest and under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions campfires and all other fires.  Camping stoves are allowed. 

Firefighters have responded to 15 wildfires this summer on the Bitterroot National Forest.