Morning Lightning Starts 6 Forest Fires in Valley
Six small fires - less than a half-acre in size - were sparked by lightning in the early morning hours Thursday, August 6, on the Bitterroot National Forest. Public Affairs Officer Tod McKay said the aviation and ground crews quickly responded to the fire starts on both sides of the valley. He said the fires are being fought in a "full suppression" strategy. There were over 150 confirmed lightning strikes (see map below) in both the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains. Spotters will be looking for "holdover" fires from those strikes in the next few days.
Currently, there are four helicopters and 20 firefighters are assigned to the six fires. The helicopters dropped water on the blazes until ground crews could arrive. In the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the forest service sent rappellers to the Mt. George Fire in Idaho. There are no structures threatened and there are no forest closures at this time. Fire danger is "High." McKay said there have been 13 lightning fires and 6 human-caused fires so far this season.