Witness describes seeing potentially suspicious Missoula fires


MISSOULA, Mont. - Authorities in the Missoula area are investigating a series of three potentially suspicious fires that popped up over the weekend.

Lolo National Forest officials say the first call came in at around 3 a.m. on Sunday, and when authorities arrived to the junction of Deer Creek and Crystal Creek, they found three blazes.

Authorities have not ruled out the potential that the fires were human-caused, and the investigation is ongoing.

Crews continued to mop up at the site on Monday. Meanwhile, NBC Montana spoke with a Hellgate High student, Dylan Lewis, who snapped photos of the fire. His friend called 911 to report the blazes.

At first, he says, he and his friends thought it was a bonfire in the distance, but they later realized they were wildfires.

"We were there for maybe 15 seconds before we were on the phone," said Lewis.

Lewis' brother is a firefighter, and he knows that time is of the essence when reporting blazes.

"It was just crazy. It was very nerve-wracking because we got up there at first and all of a sudden there was a huge fire on the side of the road," said Lewis.

Lewis says he was just wearing flip flops at the time, so all he could do was kick the fire off the road.

He says the fires seem suspicious, because there haven't been storms in the area and they were right by the road.

"If they got caught they would have to pay a lot of money, that's for sure," said Lewis.

He knows fires like these can be dangerous.

"Especially when it's been this hot," said Lewis.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Lolo National Forest headquarters at 329-3750.