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A trio of ducks floats an irrigation ditch staying in the cool shade of foliage along the bank Thursday afternoon near Sixth Street West. The National Weather Service in Missoula is predicting a high of 103 degrees Friday.

Eat your ice cream fast.

Also, don't throw cigarette butts out your car window, or leave children or pets in the back seat.

Record high temperatures are forecast Friday, brush and grasses are getting dry and crispy, and in Hot Springs, fire managers are holding a community meeting at 10 a.m. about the Garden Creek fire. (See details below.)

The National Weather Service is forecasting a record high of 103 on Friday in Missoula, 1 degree hotter than the daily record set in 1928. In Kalispell, the mercury could hit 102, 3 degrees higher than the record set in 2003.

In Hamilton, it might reach 100, and the U.S. Forest Service will raise fire danger to Extreme in the Bitterroot National Forest the same day.

"Tell your readers to prepare themselves for the heat for one more day," meteorologist Trent Smith said Thursday. "We'll get a little relief this weekend."

Saturday, strong winds will blow across western Montana, and the Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning to alert the firefighting community of critical conditions — a mix of high temperatures, low humidity and wind.

This time of year, the average temperature in Missoula is 87 degrees, but a relatively dry "cold front" is coming through Saturday. You can continue to hydrate, though.

"It'll probably still be pretty warm," Smith said.

Indeed, he said the forecast Saturday is for a high of 96 in Missoula, and on Sunday, the temps should hover closer to normal, around 85 degrees. The cooling air and breeziness Sunday should be a trend throughout western Montana.

Hamilton will drop to a high of 94 Saturday and then 84 on Sunday, according to the forecast. Kalispell is projected to reach a high of 91 Saturday and 81 Sunday.

Early next week, a high pressure ridge will build, and Smith said it won't be as hot as it is Friday.

"But by midweek, we'll probably be right around that 90 degree mark, maybe low 90s," he said.

Air in Missoula County will stay hazy Friday, according to a report from air quality specialist Sarah Coefield of the City-County Health Department. It might deteriorate in the afternoon and evening with atmospheric mixing "that could draw smoke down to the valley floor."

The dry cold front will come with surface winds and "much zippier transport winds."

"The smoke that’s stalled over our area will move off, but there’s a chance it will be replaced by California smoke this weekend," Coefield said in her email update.

In the Bitterroot National Forest, Stage II restrictions will go into place Friday. Campfires and other fires are prohibited, along with operating motorized vehicles off designated trails. For details about prohibitions, visit

In a statement, Hamilton Fire Chief Brad Mohn asked people to be careful as grasses dry.

"It's just getting drier and drier out there," Mohn said. "Another problem we deal with often is the improper disposal of cigarettes, especially along the highway.

"Cigarette butts should never be thrown from vehicle windows."

In the news release, fire managers also remind people to have water supplies or fire extinguishers handy when working outside, along with leather gloves and hand tools. "When fire danger is Extreme, fires start quickly, spread furiously, and burn intensely."


Up north, the Garden Creek fire topped 2,000 acres northwest of Hot Springs, and a community meeting was scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at the Hot Springs Senior Citizens Center, 101 Main St. Fire managers would answer questions about the burn, according to an update from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The report on the national fire information site InciWeb notes people with questions should contact Division of Fire at 406-676-2550 or contact C.T. Camel, prevention specialist, at 406-676-2550 ext. 6407 or email: or Devlin Lafrombois at ext. 6410 or email:

According to the update, firefighters increased the controlled area of the Garden Creek fire to 10 percent. "The plan for (Thursday) is to continue to construct line and to conduct burnout operations with heavy equipment and air support," said the report. 

In Yellowstone National Park, the fire danger was raised to Very High, although there are no fire restrictions in the park, according to the National Park Service. "As always, campfires are only permitted in fire rings in campgrounds and some backcountry campsites. All campfires must be cold to the touch before abandoning: soak, stir, feel, repeat."

Read more about current conditions in Yellowstone.

An update from the Missoula Area Restrictions Coordinator notes people in the Missoula Area will wake up Friday in Stage II restrictions. Details are available at, and the news release notes the following highlights.

Stage II Restrictions do not apply:

      • inside city limits (the exception is Missoula City Open space and conservation lands),

  • on state and private property in Granite and Powell counties, and
  • on BLM lands in the Missoula Area; BLM lands have Stage I restrictions (campfires allowed only at Thibodeau Campground and Garnett Ghost Town).
  • Stage II Restrictions are in place on private property outside of city limits in the following counties: Lake, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sanders.
  • During Stage I and II restrictions, LPG gas stoves and grills that can be turned on and off can be used area-wide. Also, generators can be used if they have operational spark arresters. In both cases, they need to be used in areas 3 feet in diameter that are clear of burnable vegetation. 

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