With fire danger at the "high" level, the Bitterroot National Forest crews responded to 12 lightning-caused fires over the past week, according to Fire Management Officer Mark Wilson. He told the Ravalli County Commissioners Monday, August 12, that the largest fire was the 57-acre Lawrence Gulch fire in the old burn area of the Fires of 2000. The wind-driven blaze, between Conner and Sula at the south end of the valley, spread quickly in grass on the ridge tops late last week. An air attack of helicopters and retardant tankers was called in. On the ground, crews from the Bitterroot National Forest and Trapper Creek Job Corps responded. Wilson said the fire is in mop-up stages this week.

Wilson said all fires in the Bitterroot have been under "full suppression," and observers will be looking for possible hold-over lightning-caused fires this week. Meanwhile, in the Selway-Bitterroot and the Frank Church Wilderness areas, three fires are being managed for resource objectives. And a reminder in Ravalli County and Missoula County, open burning is not allowed on private lands. The weekend thunderstorms also brought strong winds, which caused trees to fall across roadways through the valley, according to the Ravalli Count Sheriff's Office.