Smoke in the Bitterroot Valley (and throughout western Montana) this weekend was from the usual places - coastal fires in California, Oregon and Washington. However, weather patterns are clearing much of that smoke out of the Montana valleys and a change in the dry, hot conditions is expected at the end of this week. Still, fire season continues with a new blaze reported six miles southwest of Pollock, Idaho, on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. The Bryan Mountain fire was reported Thursday afternoon, October 1, and at last report was 50 acres in size (see photo above). Forest officials said the fire is in a remote area with rough terrain and no structures in danger. Smoke can be seen from Riggins and McCall, Idaho, along with the Seven Devils area. Other fires that are closer to the Bitterroot have not had much growth of the last week. On the Powell Ranger District in Idaho, the Beaver Fire is at 2,992 acres and and the Marion Fire is at 1,520. The Savage Pass road has been reopened in that area. The fires are a few miles away from the Powell Ranger Station. The Shissler Fire, near Elk City, is still listed at 11,000 acres on Inciweb.

Meanwhile, the trails and roads have been re-opened around the Cinnabar Fire, just to the east of us on the Lolo National Forest. Though fire activity has been low on the Bitterroot National Forest, about 65 people from the forest are helping fight fires elsewhere, including the Bitterroot Hot Shot crew. People from the Bitterroot are on the firelines in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and elsewhere in Montana. It's been a rough fire season in the western US. Keep our valley safe when you burn your fields or slash piles in the recently re-opened "Open Burn" season. It lasts until the end of November. You'll need a permit. Call the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office at (406) 375-4060 for more information. And if you've got one of those warming campfires on these autumn nights, make sure it is Dead Out before you leave your campsite. You can not put too much water on a campfire. Drown it!