Bob and his friend Matt load Bob's mother's belongings into his pick-up truck after she was evacuated from her home in the Lolo Peak Fire warning area. 300 residents were given evacuation notices (160 directly threatened by the fire) on Aug. 12.
Even a brief drizzle of rain on July 28 did nothing to settle to the dry, dusty conditions on Deschamps Lane west of Missoula. July had nearly an inch less of rain and temperatures have been 5.1 degrees hotter than normal.
Smoke silhouttes a helicopter making bucket drops on the Sunrise Fire Complex passes behind stand up paddle boarders on the Clark Fork River just north of the fire on July 28. More than a dozen homes were ordered to evacuate as the fire worked its way down the east side of Sunrise Mountain on.
Pallbearers from the U.S. Forest Service load the body of Brent Witham into a Forest Service Sherpa on Agu. 7 for transport to California for memorial services. Witham, a firefighter with the Vista Grande Hotshot crew in California, died Aug. 2 when he was struck by a falling tree while assigned to the Lolo Peak fire .
A contract fire firefighter stands outside his truck in downtown Seeley Lake Thursday morning where officials from the Missoula City-County Health Department have issued a strong recommendation that residents leave the area to get out of the hazardous air quality conditions created by smoke pouring into the town from the nearby Rice Ridge fire on Aug. 10.
Bryanna Thompson loads a child's bicycle among other items she was taking from her home on County Line Road near Florence after the evacuation order for the Lolo Peak fire was widened to include her address on Aug. 17.
Montana Highway patrol officers Sean Finley, left, and and Shawn Smalley stop motorists on Highway 12 after the highway was closed because of spot fires from the Lolo Peak fire on Aug. 18. Wind and heating in the afternoons continue to cause problems on the fire.
Exhaustion reads on the face of a firefighter from Noorvik, Alaska, while he and his team were working the primary fire line on the Lolo Peak fire near Carlton Ridge, watching for and extinguishing spot fires that threatened to jump the line on Aug. 18.
Motorists on U.S. Highway 93 South pass through a plume of smoke from the Lolo Peak fire as flames from the fire, and from backfiring operations, pushed toward the valley floor between Lolo and Florence on Aug. 17.
Five-year-old Hayden O'Leary watches the Lolo Peak fire from the back of her grandfather's truck Saturday evening while parked on a ridge overlooking Lolo and the Bitterroot Valley from the Miller Creek area on Aug. 19.
A heavy-lift Chinook helicopter flies toward a large plume of smoke on the Lolo Peak fire Aug. 17. The fire ran seven miles in seven hours on Thursday, the first of two hectic days defending homes on both the Bitterroot and Lolo Creek sides.
Nick Viola uses a hoe to turn scorched earth over as Barry Cole hoses the hot spots down during the mop up of a back burn near the Bass Creek Recreation Area south of the Lolo Peak fire on Aug. 28. Crews burned 400 acres across a 500-acre site on Sunday night.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Flammond, left, and Cpl. David Sheridan of the Montana National Guard man a roadblock on School Lane in Seeley Lake on Aug. 29. A large number of homes east of U.S. Highway 83 were evacuated on Monday evening because of the Rice Ridge fire.
With thick smoke continuing to pour into western Montana valleys, Sandy Hornstein wears a respirator on Sept 7, while walking to her truck after taking care of some business at the Missoula County Courthouse. "I've been wearing it since the smoke got bad," she says, "about a month ago. I like my lungs."
Donald Jaques, a public information officer on the Lolo Peak fire, covers the fire information board in Lolo with plastic wrap on Sept. 13 to protect it from the foretasted rains. "This rain won't put the fire out," says Jaques, "but it's certainly going to moderate fire behavior to allow additional work that we haven't been able to do. We've been playing defense." In the 12 weeks since summer officially began on June 21, the weather service in Missoula has recorded only one day of rain.
The last Lockheed P2V air tanker, a plane that was originally designed to carry the Navy's nuclear weapons, has been helping fight fires in Montana and all over the United States. Neptune Aviation will retire Tanker 05 at the end of 2017 fire season. On Sept. 30 Neptune will host a open house to celebrate the airplane's retirement in its hangars on the east end of the Missoula International Airport.
Maark Stermitz looks out over the remains of his home that burned in the Lolo Peak fire nearly a month ago on Sept 14. The Lolo Peak fire has burned 52,745 acres and is currently 46 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon. Stermitz and his wife lived in the home for seven years before the blaze.