Lightning sparks 20 new fires west of Kalispell

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Lightning from the past couple of nights resulted in numerous new fires burning west of Kalispell on Saturday.

According Ali Ulwelling with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, fires were confirmed in the McGregor Lake, Lost Prairie and Ashley Lake areas. She estimated that 20 new fires had started within the past 24 hours.

The Tamarack Fire was the largest, Ulwelling said, estimated at 25 acres as of Saturday afternoon. The fire is burning on the Kootenai unit northwest of the Lost Prairie area.

The Twin Lakes Fire on the Plains unit is estimated at 6.8 acres.

Most of the other fires were less than 1 acre.

“Lighting came though and scattered a bunch of fires,” Ulwelling said. “Most are getting caught and kept small.”

Local agencies were prioritizing fires and sharing available resources including helicopters, super scoopers, engines, heavy equipment and hand-crews. Smokejumpers from Missoula responded to two fires just north of McGregor Lake, and Type I and II helicopters were dropping water on fires on the Plains and Libby units.

No structures were threatened as of Saturday, Ulwelling said.

A red flag warning has been issued through Sunday afternoon. Expect low daytime and overnight humidity and an increase in winds as a cold front passes through the area.

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