HAMILTON — Bitterroot National Forest managers are already staging fire equipment as they brace for potential fire starts after a week of record, or near-record temperatures.
While forests in the Bitterroot still appear to be quite green from a distance, closer inspection shows how grasses, brush and even the timber is drying out because of the triple digit heat.
Dead, or dying fuels won't take much to ignite this weekend.
The fire danger now is still "high". But that's expected to climb upward quickly within a few days.
Bitterroot National Forest Fire Manager Mark Wilson says even in the timbered stands, heavy fuels like trees and logs are already "extremely dry", evidenced by several fires already burning in Idaho.
"The big concern right now is those high temperatures and things are just drying much quicker with these record conditions that we're having," explaining how the fire risk is already above normal.
"We're rapidly moving through high fire danger and approaching 'very high', you know, in just a matter of days. And that's kind of unheard of for us," Wilson continued.
There's always a concern of lightning-caused fires as we get into July.
But the US Forest Service is reminding everyone in campgrounds or generally recreating on the forest to use a lot of caution this weekend.
It should be noted that fireworks are illegal on state lands as well as on National Forest lands.