MISSOULA, Mont. -

The wildfire season is beyond the halfway point, and the situation is rather good.  Both the number of wildfires and amount of acres burned is are at some of the lowest values in the last 5 years. While we still have the rest of August and all of September before we can essentially close the book on this year, the initial returns are good. July and August are peak months for wildfires, but 2 of the last 5 years have acreage totals only a few thousand acres more than our current level.

Timely rain in June and early August have helped control the wildfire situation, putting bookends on the extended hot and dry weather in July. The first fire in the state to top 1,000 acres this year didn't occur until July 14th, when the West Mullan Fire ignited near the town of Superior.

47,849 acres have burned across the state so far this year. It's nothing compared to last summer, when over 1.2 million acres were torched in the worst wildfire season the state has had in the last decade.

It only takes one big fire to throw all of this data out the window. Despite the timely rain, it only served to wipe away the deficit in July. Thunderstorms since the first weekend of the month have been mostly dry, bringing the lightning strike hazard with little liquid benefit. This weekend saw thousands of lightning strikes across the region; and with the heat returning at the end of this week, new fire starts are possible.