(HELENA)  Wild fire season officially started for the weekend, as the Elk Hill fire ignited in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.  In this week’s weather wise, an early fire season signals what could be a long and firey summer.

The cause of the fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness is still under investigation, but itvlcsnap-2016-04-11-16h28m47s583 is likely a campfire is to blame.  On Monday that fire has grown to more than 1,000 acres near the lower North Fork of the Sun River, West of Gibson Reservoir.  30 firefighters and 3 helicopters are working to suppress the blaze.

The fire is actively burning within the perimeter of a wildfire from 2005.  Fallen trees from that fire are the primary fuels, but this area also had a very dry winter.  Snow pack in the sun, Marias and Teton river drainage is only at 57% of normal, the lowest any mountain snow pack in the state.

A fire this large and this early in the season should be taken as a major warning.  Now, is the time to maintain the defensible space around your home, the time to talk to your kids about fire prevention and to discuss a fire evacuation plan with your family.

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The beetle kill maybe the largest forest insect blight ever seen in North America, and it has left approximately 6 million acres of standing dead trees in Montana.  These available fuels will ultimately produce larger fires that are more difficult and dangerous to fight.

An early fire season points to a bad fire season.


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