800 Lightning Strikes Spark 30 New Fires in Lolo National Forest
The recent thunderstorm that raced through Idaho and western Montana included nearly a thousand lightning strikes in the Lolo National Forest.
Public Information Officer Kate Jerman provided details to KGVO News on Thursday morning.
“We had a large thunderstorm track west to east across the majority of the Lolo National Forest and that started early Wednesday morning and we received an estimated 800 lightning strikes across the forest,” said Jerman. “Primarily the concentration of those lightning strikes occurred on the western part of the Lolo National Forest, which is the Superior Ranger District and the Plains and Thompson Falls Ranger District.”
Jerman said the lightning strikes did produce numerous fires.
“As a result of that thunderstorm that tracked across the forest, at this point we have over 30 confirmed fires on the Lolo National Forest, which we are actively responding to on multiple fire fronts with multiple different types of firefighting resources,” she said.
Jerman listed some of the resources currently battling those fires.
“That includes smokejumpers, helicopters, fixed wing aircraft like single engine air tankers,” she said. “We had a very large air tanker working a couple of fires on the western side of the forest yesterday along with ground crews and engines so we're engaged at every level on the western side of the forest to identify where these fires are and quickly respond and suppress them.”
The situation was considered serious enough that a Type One management team will be taking over the fires.
“Last night, we made the decision to bring in a Type One Incident Management Team to address the large volume and complexity of fires we currently have burning on the western side of the forest,” she said. “And again, that includes the Superior Ranger District in place and the Thompson Falls Ranger District. Together, those Ranger Districts have over 20 active wildfires right now, which is a lot of fire activity.”
In the coming days as temperatures increase, humidity drops, and fuel moistures continue to dry out, trees, stumps, and root systems impacted by lightning strikes may smolder and burn actively. If you see smoke, please report it to 9-1-1.
KEEP READING: Scroll to see what the big headlines were the year you were born