Fire danger on the Bitterroot National Forest has moved from Moderate to High, as of Thursday, July 11.

Lightning caused the Took Ridge Fire at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday July 9 near the Lookout Mountain lookout, north of Painted Rocks Lake up the West Fork. Two engines were sent to the fire initially. Wednesday, additional crews and two helicopters were needed to contain the fire at 1.5 acres. Fifteen firefighters were on the line Thursday evening.

Joni Lubke of the Bitterroot National Forest said in a news release that the increasingly warm and dry weather has brought the possibilities of forest fire much higher. Added to that are some "dry" lightning storms - lots of lightning but not much rain.

There have been five fires on the forest so far this season - two were human-caused and three were lightning-caused.

A troubling trend is occurring. Fire prevention patrols have found several abandoned campfires over the past few weeks, Lubke said.

Guidelines to putting out your campfire:

  • 1. Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
  • 2. Pour water on the fire. Drown ALL embers, not just the red ones.
  • 3. Keep pouring water until the "hissing" stops.
  • 4. Stir the ashes and embers with a shovel to reveal more embers.
  • 5. Scrape the sticks and logs to remove embers.
  • 6. Stir again. Make sure all is wet and cold to the touch.
  • 7. No water? Use dirt. Mix with embers, stirring until all embers are cool. DO NOT BURY the fire. It will continue to smolder and could catch underground roots on fire.