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Lightning sparks Arlee fire

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ARLEE – The Arlee Northwest Fire burned on a grassy hillside located two and a half miles northwest of town.

On July 9, the fire was 20 percent contained and had covered 24 acres.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' Division of Fire began fire suppression efforts with an objective: to create control lines and secure fire lines with a burnout operation.

CSKT Fire Management Specialist C.T. Camel said that by the next morning, after the fire had stared, it was “pretty much out.” The morning of July 10, there was no visible smoke in the town of Arlee.

Grass and timber were ignited by a lightning strike in the area during a storm on July 7 or July 8.

Two engines and an eight-person crew fought the fire. The Arlee Rural Fire Department helped manage the fire shortly after it started.

The fire did not burn any structures and primarily ignited grass. “It was a pretty boring fire as fires go,” Camel said.

Camel said the Flathead Reservation shifted to a high fire danger status on July 15.

Debris burning by permit is closed for the fire season.

Camel urged residents to be cautious. Campfires should be watched closely and put out completely.

The CSKT Division of Fire said that fine, dead fuel is the primary carrier of fire in wildland areas, and when fires establish in this fuel type, they can quickly spread out of control.

"Dry conditions will be present across northwest Montana through this weekend," they noted. People are asked to be cautious while outdoors. "Please do your part to ensure there is one less spark as a result of your outdoor activities."

If anyone has a question about wildfires, they can contact the Division of Fire at 406-676-2550.

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