The prescribed fires have continued this fall in the Bitterroot National Forest. Smoke was evident in the Canyon Creek area of the Bitterroot Mountains west of Hamilton Wednesday and again on Thursday as 70 acres of piles of slash timber were burned, according to forest officials. There was also pile burning in the Three Saddle units near Ambrose Road in the Sapphire Mountains northeast of Stevensville. Other prescribed burns were happening this week at the Larry Creek group site in Bass Creek and in the south end of the valley on the Darby/Sula ranger District. (see photo below). The fires are set to reduce fuel and slash wood debris left over from thinning and timber projects. The burns are planned with weather conditions in mind to keep the smoke and visual impacts as low as possible.

By the way, it is still Forest Fire Season. Firefighters responded to a human-caused wildfire in the Calf Creek area on the Stevensville Ranger district. The cause - an abandoned warming campfire. The report indicated the fire had been burning under a large pine tree for several days. The blaze was quickly extinguished, though it could've caused a much bigger fire. As the temperature warms in between the cold front, pine needles, grass and twigs dry out. Hunters - build your warming fire away from vegetation, keep the fire small, never leave it unattended and when you leave your area, drown the fire until it is cold to the touch. We have had way too many abandoned campfires in the Bitterroot this year.

Another indication of continuing fire season, local firefighters helped fight the Sourdough Fire in Idaho, which grew to over 5,000 this past weekend. Please be careful out there. Other tips - don't drive or park on tall, dry grass. Hot muffler systems can set off a fire. Check your trailer hitch chains and make sure they're not dragging.

Slash piles on Darby/Sula Ranger District (Bitterroot Natl Forest-provided photo)