Summer sizzle brings on fire season

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And so it begins.

A plume of smoke from the Rogers Mountain blaze drifted across the Flathead Valley on Sunday night, a sure sign that wildfire season has officially reared its head for the summer. The fire has charred just 68 acres as of Tuesday and conditions have improved, but residents near Happy’s Inn have been put on notice to be ready to evacuate if things change.

The Rogers Fire is among the dozens of new fire starts that popped up across Northwest Montana last weekend. A sizzling summer heat wave bearing triple-digit temperatures, combined with low fuel moisture in the forests has primed the region for potentially dangerous fire conditions. The Flathead Forest bumped its fire danger rating to high last week in advance of the heat wave.

While most of the new fires were due to lightning strikes, human error was to blame for some, including runaway campfires, fireworks and sparks from machinery.

Luckily no property damage or injuries have been reported thus far and most of the fires remain small. But that all-too-familiar smell of wildfire smoke lingering over the valley should serve as a stark reminder that the season is upon us.

With another bout of scorching temperatures forecast this week, let’s all play it smart outside. Make sure campfires are dead out, be conscious of your surroundings when working with machinery, and save the leftover fireworks for another season.

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