Smoke visible coming from west of Missoula is the result of several prescribed burns being conducted by the Nine Mile Ranger District.

Lolo National Forest Public Information Officer Boyd Hartwig said the burns are intentionally set to reduce fuels for possible fires during the upcoming fire season.

"We do the prescribed burning to reduce fuels and to mitigate larger fires during the upcoming fire season," Hartwig said. "These burns, especially the ones today in the Nine Mile District are adjacent to private land so that we can avoid those large fires near communities.

"They've got a couple of burns going on today," Hartwig said. ""One is in the Cold Creek and Roman Creek area, and that's about 250 acres, so people will definitely see the smoke. Another burn is in the Stony Creek and Petty Rock areas, both several miles from Frenchtown Pond."

Hartwig said the prescribed burns also benefit the habitat.

"There are also a lot of ecological benefits," Hartwig said. "They help restore vegetation, restore soils and help to clean up ground litter, so they do have a lot of benefit to the ecosystem. In fact, the Nine Mile burn is being done in conjunction with the Wild Turkey Federation."

Hartwig said the burns will continue east of Missoula on Friday.

Lolo National Forest Public Information Officer Boyd Hartwig