Of the fires popping up from recent lightning storms, two are of note to Bitterroot Valley residents.

Many people saw smoke drifting into the valley from the California Point Fire on the north end of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. The 200-acre fire was reported Thursday, July 18. It is in Idaho, about 35 miles west of the Bitterroot Valley. It will be monitored by the Forest Service. Eight smokejumpers were taken off the fire Friday. Laura Smith of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests reported the fire burning actively in beetle-killed lodgepole pine and subalpine fir trees. Smoke will continue to drift into Montana from the blaze.

South of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, on the Frank Church wilderness, is the lightning-caused Gold Pan Fire (see photo). Tod McKay of the Bitterroot National Forest said the 10 acre fire is west of the Selway River and Magruder Ranger Station - about a mile southwest of Kim Creek Saddle. He reports that the fire will be monitored and that it is surrounded by old burns, including last year's Salamander and Mustang Complex.

McKay reports 10 wildfires have been called in and extinguished this year on the Bitterroot. All were kept under 1.5 acres.

Two of those fires were human-caused, which reminds us:

Fire danger on the Bitterroot National Forest, like all others in the area, is High. Be VERY CAREFUL with campfires. Make sure the ashes are cold to the touch before you leave your campsite.