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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lightning sparks wildfires on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

Lightning from a thunderstorm Thursday afternoon sparked several wildfires in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. The largest, the Center Ridge Fire, located between the Salmon and Snake Rivers, is 23 acres.

The storm brought cooler temperatures and heavy rain to some areas, stalling growth of three fires that were already burning in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

Aircraft and crews on the ground fought the Center Ridge Fire for several hours after the fire was reported at 12:23 p.m. The fire, visible from Highway 95 on Thursday, is located about 4 miles southwest of Slate Creek Ranger Station. On Friday, 42 firefighters, again supported by aircraft, were working on the fire.

The storm could result in more starts, as trees hit by lightning smolder into flames in the coming days. Cooler weather over the weekend, with showers and thunderstorms persisting through Monday, will help deter flare-ups. A warming trend will bring higher temperatures later in the week.

Owners of recreational Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, are reminded that drones are not permitted to fly in areas with Temporary Flight Restrictions in place, such as wildfires. Drones endanger aircraft working on fires because of the possibility of collisions. Aircraft have been grounded at several wildfires in the past month after drones were spotted flying in restricted air space.