The overnight lightning storms that rolled through eastern Idaho and western Montana sparked several small fires in the Lolo National Forest.

Public Information Officer Kate Jerman said there were hundreds of lightning strikes that stretched from Idaho east to Missoula.

“We received over 200 lightning strikes across the forest that was very widespread from the west to the east,” said Jerman. "Right now we are up to six new fire starts, and five of those are from lightning. This morning we reported that there were three new starts around the Boyd mountain area that's about four miles west of St. Regis and we have crews on those three new starts. Fire behavior right now is minimal, but we just received word that we have two more starts on the Nine Mile Ranger District near Petty Mountain and we also have crews responding to that.”

We received over 200 lightning strikes across the forest that was very widespread from the west to the east,” said Jerman. "Right now we are up to six new fire starts, and five of those are from lightning. This morning we reported that there were three new starts around the Boyd mountain area that's about four miles west of St. Regis and we have crews on those three new starts.

Jerman said fire officials will be taking to the air to get a better overall look at the results of the overnight thunderstorms.

“We'll be flying two detection flights,” she said. “That's pretty normal for this time of year is to do regular detection flights. One detection flight will be for the east side of the forest and one detection flight will be from the west side of the forest. Those flights really give us a bird's eye view of what's going on out on the landscape, especially in some of those remote areas, and we can oftentimes detect new fire starts from lightning strikes using that tool.”

Jerman said the public can help by spotting and reporting any fires or plumes of smoke to the Lolo National Forest.

“If you see something please report it, and you can either do that through your local 9-1-1 Center or you can call the Missoula dispatch center and that number is 406-829-7070. We are out in patrolling but we obviously can't be everywhere at all times and sometimes the public will see something we don't and we really appreciate anyone calling in a smoke report if they see it so we can really jump on any new fire starts very quickly.”

Jerman also asked those recreating in the forest to be extremely careful with campfires and to make sure they are completely out and cool to the touch before leaving the campsite.

Fire danger has been raised to Very High in the Lolo National Forest.

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