Lightning storms passed through the southern Bitterroot Valley again this weekend and started at least four forest fires on the Bitterroot National Forest, according to Public Affairs officer Tod McKay. The Friday and Saturday storms caused small fires that were contained or extinguished by Sunday afternoon. Another storm Monday morning started a fire west of Darby on Tin Cup Ridge, and firefighters quickly responded. McKay said there were 50 confirmed lightning strikes Friday and Saturday and fire crews will on the lookout this week for holdover fires that might be smoldering in the undergrowth from lightning strikes.

Meanwhile, to the west in Idaho, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest had 27 fires from the weekend storms and officials say firefighters have responded to all of them. A Type 1 management team has taken over operations at the Rattlenake Creek Fire near McCall, Idaho. That fire is over 7,000 acres in size. Air quality has dropped into the "Unhealthy" range throughout Western Montana, except in the Bitterroot Valley. Hamilton's air monitor registered "Moderate" air quality Monday morning. You can check on the air quality at the DEQ website.

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