Last week, campfires were allowed again in the Bitterroot National Forest and in Ravalli County. In a weekly update, Bitterroot Forest Fire Manager Mark Wilson said officials found an abandoned campfire over the weekend. In fact, all three new fires in the last week were human-caused. All were extinguished.

Meanwhile, Ravalli County Emergency Coordinator Eric Hoover said that on the county's roads, officials noted people flipping cigarettes out their car windows and in another incident, a safety chain between a vehicle and trailer was seen dragging along the pavement, causing sparks. Thankfully, no fires were started in either case. However, Wilson said that those two human behaviors are the most common problems on the roads during what is still a "High" fire danger level in western Montana.

Mark said the grasses and forest fuels are dry and no precipitation is expected for the next two weeks. The temperatures are keeping the danger from going higher, with the highs in the low 80s and upper 70s and lows in the 40s. But, again, if you have a campfire, make sure it is out before you leave your campsite. The coals must be cold to the touch. If they're not, pour more water on the fire.

Nearby, not much change in forest fires. No significant growth in the Storm Creek Fire in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, near the Montana-Idaho border. On the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, the Trail Creek Fire was active on its western flank along the Three Mile Creek ridge. Helicopters are dumping water on the hot spots. There have been flareups in the interior of the Alder Creek Fire and Christensen Fire near Wise River. Officials are reporting very dry conditions at those fires. Highway 43 and the Pioneer Scenic Highway are open to traffic.

By the way, Ravalli County's "Open Burning Ban" is still in effect. Hoover said that the ban will be re-visited weekly in September, but as of today, no burning of fields or slash piles. And, when it does re-open you will need a permit.

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