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Bitterroot NF fire danger rising to "extreme" - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Bitterroot NF fire danger rising to "extreme"

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HAMILTON - The fire danger on the Bitterroot National Forest will be bumped up to "extreme" on Friday.

“We are currently at record-setting levels for dryness for this time of the year,” said Mark Wilson, Fire Management Officer.  “I think everyone can see the conditions changing in the valley bottom, we’re really seeing the grasses cure out so that’s going to make a big difference with fires that start as they have the potential to spread very quickly.”

The continued hot and dry conditions are also prompting officials to also institute Stage II Fire Restrictions across the Bitterroot National Forest beginning on Friday, August 10 th.

Campfires and all other fires are prohibited along with operating motorized vehicles off designated trails are not allowed under Stage II Fire Restrictions. Additionally, firewood cutting is also prohibited after 1 p.m. and smoking is not allowed unless in enclosed vehicles, buildings, or flammable free areas. 

Stage II Fire Restrictions will also begin on Friday in Ravalli County and many others areas across Western Montana. Click here to view the latest fire restrictions that are in effect in Montana.

Individuals who violate these restrictions can face fines up to $5,000 and six months in jail, along with paying suppression costs and damages, if you start a fire. 

“People really need to be more careful, because it’s just getting drier and drier out there,” said Brad Mohn, Hamilton Fire Chief. “Another problem we deal with often is the improper disposal of cigarettes, especially along the highway.  Cigarette butts should never be thrown from vehicle windows.”  

When fire danger is “Extreme” fires start quickly, spread furiously and burn intensely.  All fires are potentially serious and development into high-intensity burning will be faster and occur even on smaller fires.  Direct attack is rarely possible and may be dangerous except immediately after ignition.


Stage II Fire Restrictions prohibit:

  1. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire.
  2. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
  3. The following acts are prohibited between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m. and a one-hour foot patrol in the work area is required following the cessation of all activities as identified in below:  
    1. Operating any internal combustible engine. EXCEPTION: Operating generators with an approved spark arresting device within an enclosed vehicle or building or in an area that is barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the generator.
    2. Welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.
    3. Using an explosive. NOTE: A one-hour foot patrol in the work area is required following cessation of all activities as identified in #3 (a-c) above.
    4. Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails. EXCEPTION: Persons using a fire solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off. Such devices can only be used in an area that is barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the device.

List of Agencies and Counties Where Stage II restrictions will be enforced on Friday, August 10:

  • .Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes
  • Bitterroot National Forest (EXCEPT in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Idaho)
  • Lolo National Forest (EXCEPT in the Scapegoat Wilderness)
  • MT DNRC - State and Private classified forest land in Missoula, Ravalli, Mineral and Sanders counties
  • Montana FWP Fishing Access Sites, State Parks, and Wildlife Management Areas in Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, and Sanders counties
  • Sanders County Private land outside of city limits
  • Missoula County private land outside of city limits (except Missoula)
  • Missoula City open space and conservation land within the city limits 
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