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Bitterroot National Forest Imposes Restrictions – More Fires

Forest fire smoke in the Bitterroot Valley. (KLYQ Photo)
The Bitterroot National Forest will implement Stage 1 Fire Restrictions this weekend.

The move comes because of the continuing dry, hot conditions and discovery of three more abandoned campfires this past weekend.

Public Affairs Officer Tod McKay said that firefighters discovered and put out three campfires left burning in fire rings in camping areas in the Bitterroot National Forest on the Stevensville and Darby districts.

The new restrictions are similar to the Ravalli County restrictions put in place weeks ago by the county commissioners. No fires or campfires are allowed unless they are in a Forest Service-provided fire ring in an established campground. Smoking is not allowed unless in a vehicle or building.

The rules go into effect Saturday morning, after midnight Friday.

Smoke in the valley has been building, with fires burning to the west and south of the Bitterroot. The Halstead and Bench Fires are covering thousands of acres near Stanley, Idaho and has caused warnings for drivers on Highway 21.

Just over Lost Trail Pass, the Salmon River Road has been closed due to the Mustang Complex of fires, including the Mustang and Broomtail fires, which are backing down Colson Creek toward the Salmon River on the North Fork Ranger District. Those fires cover almost 10,000 acres. Crews have placed protection on the Long Tom Lookout on the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

Numerous lightning strikes from last week have increased the fire activity in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, especially in the Powell SBW East Complex, about 37 miles southwest of Lolo. That group of fires is being monitored.

Over 500 lightning strikes in the Bitterroot National Forest caused fires that popped up over the weekend. Most of the fires are up the West Fork in the wilderness and are being monitored. As is the Salamander Fire, which started from an earlier lightning strike. It has been burning about a mile and a half from the Magruder Road Corridor.

Crews are fighting the 30-acre Fitz Creek Fire near the Paradise campground in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Others being attacked on Bitterroot National Forest have included the 5 acre Maverick Fire 4 miles south of Willow Mountain the Sapphire Mountains and the 2 acre Lost Horse Fire between Lost Horse and Lick Creek.

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