MISSOULA, Mont. -

The following is a press release sent out by Boyd Hartwig of the U.S. Forest Service:

The Howard Creek Fire was discovered yesterday evening at about 6 P.M. It is burning in heavy brush and lodge pole pine stands at about 5,600 feet about seven miles northeast of Lolo Hot Springs and north of Highway 12. This is a lightning caused fire. No structures or property are currently threatened. Helicopters were dispatched to the fire last night and suppression efforts began with water buckets. Firefighters were also on scene last night after hiking in. Gusty winds and numerous snags in the fire area prevented firefighters from engaging the fire on the ground last night. Fire behavior yesterday included some single tree and group torching and 2-4 foot flame lengths. Fire behavior moderated later in the evening.

Fire managers will take advantage of calmer winds and lower temperatures this morning to assess fire area and begin fireline construction. Helicopters are assigned to the fire and will be used as needed to aid suppression efforts and check fire growth.

Numerous snags in the fire area. Fire managers are incorporating safety measures to minimize risk due to snags.