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Lightning setting scattered fires in Kootenai

| July 21, 2004 12:00 AM

Lightning produced by thunderstorms moving through the Kootenai National Forest has been responsible for scattered fires.

Eight new fires were recorded on the Kootenai, including four starts on Sunday in the late afternoon. The latter fires were concentrated near the Canadian border in the Troy and Eureka ranger districts.

Of the lightning-caused fires, the largest measured roughly one-and-half acres, said Neil Nelson, Kootenai National Forest dispatch center manager.

³That was the largest lightning-caused fire we¹ve had this season,² he said. ³It¹s currently in a patrol state. The other three were put out.²

A new fire was started behind Libby on Shaughnessy Hill by lightning during Monday¹s afternoon thunderstorm. Nelson said the start, measuring one quarter of an acre, was being worked on Monday afternoon.

Since July 14, three human-caused fires were started on the Libby Ranger District. Nelson said the starts were small and easily extinguished.

After a string of sweltering days, precipitation accompanying the thunderstorms has been welcome in the area, although the dispersal has been less than equitable.

³The precipitation is helping out, but it¹s still very spotty at this point,² Nelson said. ³It could be raining at my house and not on the other side of the river.²

The Forest Service continues to patrol the area for fires not readily visible. A continued forecast of thunderstorms does little to calm nerves, Nelson said.

³The lightning definitely hasn¹t helped,² he said.