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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Fire Danger 'Very High' On Kootenai National Forest

Northern Rockies Observed Fire Danger Class: July 17 2018
National Interagency Fire Center
Northern Rockies Observed Fire Danger Class: July 17 2018

Fire danger bumped up to “very high” on the Kootenai National Forest Wednesday. Crews are holding the Zulu Fire, burning about 23 miles north of Libby, to 20 acres.

About 80 firefighters are working the blaze with help from multiple aircraft dropping retardant. A Type 3 team from the Kootenai National Forest took control of the fire Wednesday morning. There is no estimate or timeline for containment.

Willie Sykes is spokesperson for the Kootenai National Forest.

"Especially with the warm and hot, dry weather conditions, the conditions are ripe for for more of a fire season later on."

Sykes says two firefighters from the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the Flathead National Forest were treated for heat exhaustion and pre-existing cardiac issues Tuesday night. Both were evaluated at the hospital and released.

The Zulu Fire was initially reported Sundayand is believed to be caused by lightning. It’s the first significant burn in Montana of the season.

The National Interagency Coordination Center pegs fire potential as “above normal” in northwest Montana through July. Central and eastern Montana are expected to follow suit in August and September.

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter.
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