Lightning sparks several fires around Missoula, Seeley area
A flurry of lightning strikes from last week's storms pushed fire crews with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation into action over the weekend, and more hot weather is in the forecast this week.
Crews are battling a number of wildfires near Seeley Lake – an area hit hard by smoke and fire just a few short years ago.
Among them, the Elbow fire south of Salmon Lake spread to 20 acres and drew the response of two ground teams and a state helicopter, while the Lost Prairie fire, also south of Salmon Lake, was reportedly over 2 acres but was 80% contained as of Saturday.
Neither fire was threatening any structures.
Other fires in the region include the Dunning fire near Greenough and the Mountain fire east of Seeley Lake. The Elevation fire was reported Saturday near Bearmouth and was hit quickly by initial attack crews.
“With firefighting resources stretched thin by the numerous lightning caused wildfires, we ask residents and visitors to be extra careful when outdoors,” said Karl Kioleyczik, the southwest region fire management officer with DNRC. “Missoula County is in extreme fire danger and any spark can become a wildfire.”
Both Missoula County and the Lolo National Forest last week increased the fire danger to “extreme,” the highest level. The bought of lightening from last week also sparked two fires near Missoula, both near Clark Creek. They were placed under patrol status.
The National Weather Service in Missoula on Monday forecast a return to extreme temperatures pushing 100 degrees again this week, along with potential red flag conditions later in the week.
DNRC said it would continue to scout for any holdover fires from last week's weather while bracing for new round of potential incidents this week.