Thunderstorms Create Havoc in Bitterroot Valley
A lightning strike caused a grass and forest fire south of Hamilton on the ridge between Sleeping Child and Skalkaho drainages Wednesday evening. The fire has been contained at about 240 acres and no homes were burned.
A fast-moving storm cell passed over the valley about 6 p.m. and caused numerous small fires around the Hamilton area. Those fires were quickly extinguished. Lightning started fires elsewhere in the valley that kept volunteer departments hopping.
However, the fire at the mouth of Sleeping Child started moving up the hillside, pushed by strong winds. Hamilton, Darby and West Fork Volunteer Fire Departments responded first and were joined by trucks from almost all departments in the valley and Bitterroot National Forest crews, along with air support from helicopters with water buckets. Overnight, the fire has been monitored and crews will be going back in this morning for mop up work.
At the same, lightning strikes and downed trees caused power outages throughout the valley. Power in portions of the south end of Hamilton was out for over three hours.
The Glu-Lam log plant near Victor on Highway 93 was destroyed by fire. That fire also started during the thunderstorms that rolled through the valley yesterday.