A couple of days of rain, capped off by a fast-moving thunderstorm Wednesday afternoon, June 17, has brought the Bitterroot River level back up and started a small forest fire west of Hamilton. Ravalli County Sheriff's Dispatch received numerous calls about smoke north of Blodgett Canyon early Thursday morning. Lightning had struck a tree Wednesday, causing the fire. Bitterroot National Forest was notified of the minor fire. Predictions of this summer's fire season have been reported this week.

Meanwhile, the rain has raised the Bitterroot River level to a little over 9 feet Thursday morning. It is expected to crest at 9.44 feet by Friday. Flood level is 11 feet, and while it is below flood stage, there are plenty of areas near the river that have some lowland flooding. Be careful near the river and the valley's streams, which also are running high and fast.