LOLO NTL. FOREST- Recent lightning storms have started small wildfires on the Lolo National Forest.
Over 300 lightning strikes during storms Wednesday night prompted fire officials to be on alert for potential wildfires over the upcoming weekend according to a release from the Forest Service.
Wednesday night, firefighters responded to and contained two small lightning-caused fires on the Missoula and Ninemile Ranger Districts.
The public is being reminded to remain vigilant and cautious with the persistent hot and dry weather forecasted over the weekend.
Direction flights will be flown over the Missoula and Ninemile Ranger Districts Thursday, focusing on areas where known lightning activity has occurred.
Firefighters and crews will remain alert and prepared to respond to previous lightning strike wildfires that may become active over the coming days.
The Lolo National Forest is currently staffing five fire lookouts on the Ninemile, Superior, Plains- Thompson Falls and Seeley Lake Ranger Districts.
If you see smoke rising from the forest, you are asked by fire officials to report it right away to 9-1-1- or to the Missoula Interagency Dispatch Center at 406-829-7070.
The Lolo National Forest remains in high fire danger, and to date there have been 44 small wildfires, 38 human-caused and 6 lightning strikes for a total of 15.8 acres burned.
No campfire restrictions are currently in place, however, visitors and locals are urged to remain cautious with campfires in the forest.
The National Forest Service gave the following best practices for campfires:
Campfires in Montana cannot exceed 3’ high and 3’ wide
Campfires are best lit in metal rings; rock rings with 2 feet of soil cleared of
flammable vegetation are a second-best choice. If a rock ring is your only option,
try to locate your camp where a rock ring already exists to lighten your impact.
Campfires should never be left unattended. This is especially dangerous in the
heat of the day, when winds pick up and light fuels dry out.
A campfire isn’t dead-out until it is cold to the touch. Drown your campfire with
water, stir the coals in the water with a shovel, and feel the coals with the back of your hand to ensure they’re out. This is the same procedures firefighters us during the “mop-up” phase of firefighting.
Visit www.BeOutdoorSafe.org for more information on how to be a steward of public lands.