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Three Rivers region sees its share of wildfires

by Western News
| July 28, 2009 12:00 AM

A flurry of fires ignited on Kootenai National Forest’s Three Rivers District last week as the result of lightning storms.

Forest spokesman Willie Sykes said the first system moved through this past Thursday with more than 20 fires in the Upper Yaak through the Callahan Creek drainage. The largest of those fires ignited in the Pete Creek drainage and burned two acres.

“Most of the fires are staffed and as resources are gathered, firefighters are placed by helicopter or hike to unstaffed, remote fires,” Sykes said through a press release. “On-site are smokejumpers, helitack crew members, three-20 person initial attack crews and local district fire personnel.”

In addition to those resources, helicopters, air tankers and lead planes helped with initial attack in the first operational period and helicopters continued with water bucket work and crew support.

A second system went through in the early morning on Friday and sparked several more fires throughout the forest. Sykes said initial attack efforts were very successful and none of the fires threatened any structures or communities.

Fire managers expect to see holdover lightning fires emerge over time from the recent storm.

“So, it could continue to be a very busy fire season,” Sykes said.

Summer heat, along with low humidity and fierce winds, can create an opportunity for extreme fire danger, which was the case on Thursday. When such conditions exist, the Forest Service issues a red flag warning. If in effect, red flags will be displayed on the various Smokey Bear fire danger rating signs on the forest.

On the Net: Check fire danger conditions online at www.wrh.noaa.gov/mso . To check on existing fires in the western United States, go to www.inciweb.org .