Smoke suffocates valley from Storm Creek fire

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As you drive north on US 93 through the valley you notice a little less smoke, especially when you reach Lolo and Missoula. The reason is that most of the smoke in the mid-valley is from the 9,500-acre Storm Creek Fire just beyond the border in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Idaho. This fire is approaching the Bitterroot National Forest.

Public Affairs Officer Tod McKay said the forest on Thursday began posting local fire maps and daily updates across Ravalli County as the fire season continues. Florence – Gary and Leo grocery store and Florence post office; Stevensville – Super One Foods, Burnt Fork Market, Stevensville Ranger Station; Victor post office; Corvallis Post Office; Hamilton – Bitterroot Chamber of Commerce next to Safeway parking lot, Big Creek Coffee and Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor’s office.

Tuesday evening July 27, a thunderstorm brought 66 confirmed lightning strikes. Fire patrols and the eight fire watchers at the top of the mountain will be looking for lingering fires. The most recent fires in the Bitterroot National Forest included:

  • The Coyote Coulee fire south of Hamilton. On less than a tenth of an acre, a helicopter and engine put out the lightning fire Tuesday night.
  • The VFD Fires – The Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department extinguished two lightning-caused fires on Tuesday night and the Three Mile Volunteer Department extinguished a bunch of burns, which is not allowed under our current restrictions for Stage 2 fire.
  • McKay said all known fires reported have been extinguished in the Bitterroot National Forest. There was patchy rain from Tuesday’s storm with about a quarter of an inch near Lake Como, but only 0.02 inch at Stevensville. So far, there have been 35 wildfires in the Bitterroot National Forest – 13 man-made and 22 by lightning.

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