Flathead County Coverage

May 15, 2013 8:25 PM by Dax VanFossen - KAJ News

A preview of Flathead County's fire season

KALISPELL - This weeks severe weather, along with a rash of wildfires around the state, prompted us to check in and see what the fire outlook was for the Flathead.

The fire danger may be listed as low for the larger portion of Flathead County, but according to the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services (OES), that doesn't tell the whole story.

Although it is just the middle of May, there have already been several significant fires across the Flathead Valley.

the OES's Lincoln Chute says the reason is a lack of moisture on the valley floor, which averages about 47" of moisture a year, But so far, the Flathead hasn't even reached half of that mark.

The mountains surrounding the Flathead received more than 100% of their snow-pack, but much of that has already melted well ahead of schedule.

"The big heavy dead material on the ground is ultra-dry. It was consuming stuff that shouldn't consume this time of year. You know the likelihood of that gaining moisture are pretty slim," Chute explained.

"You know just like your firewood. Once you have your firewood stacked up, the rain really doesn't get it wet. It's all surface, so who knows what's gonna happen but let's plan for the worst and hope for the best," he added.

Chute also told us that planning for the worst includes taking precautions when burning, making sure not to burn when conditions aren't right, and if you must use fire, to always make sure it is dead out before you leave.

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