A prescribed fire believed "out" for nearly a month sputtered back to life in this week's August-like weather, and was burning on about 50 acres near the confluence of the Flathead and Clark Fork rivers Thursday.

Rob Seli, acting fire management officer for the Lolo National Forest, said two crews - the Lolo Hot Shots and firefighters from the Plains Ranger District - worked with a water-dropping helicopter throughout the day, keeping the fire inside the national forest boundary.

Another crew and a second helicopter will join the firefighting effort on Friday, "and we think we'll get a good handle on it," Seli said. "If we can keep it corralled for a little while, we should get help from the weather this weekend."

Seli said the original, intentional fire burned about 1,300 acres in the Wilson and Robertson creek drainages between Perma and Paradise.

Knowing the dryness of the area, crews had monitored the burn since its ignition April 25. They saw the first new smoke on Wednesday, high on a slope above Highway 200 - outside the boundary of the original burn.

The lesson, Seli said, is one of vigilance given western Montana's unusually dry spring.

"Anyone who has done any burning of debris this spring should really check their area and feel the ashes with their hands," he said. "You have to be real careful of any burned-out stumps that can hold fire for a long time. This one sat around for a month, then just kind of came to life."

"Our fire danger is probably as high as it ever gets this time of year," he said. "We saw a real dry spring like this in 1995, and had a prescribed fire escape near Thompson Falls the first week of June."

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