MISSOULA – Missoula fire officials are issuing some safety reminders as open burning season is officially underway in Western Montana.
The Missoula Rural Fire District reports that controlled burns have already escaped and caused damage in the Flathead Valley and near Superior.
Anyone planning on doing some burning should adhere to the following tips:
- Make sure you have a current burn permit and that you activate it each day you intend to burn. Permits can be obtained online at the Missoula County Fire Protection Association (MCFPA) website or at your local fire station. Be sure to follow the rules on your permit.
- Check the expected weather before lighting your burn. If winds are expected before your burn will be complete, hold off and burn a different day. Be prepared for unexpected changes in weather, such as afternoon breezes or a sudden storm with winds.
- Make sure that you only burn clean, dry natural materials. Materials such as trade-wastes, painted or stained woods, plastics, garbage and any other man-made materials are forbidden to be burned, as they create air-pollution and can cause dangerous events during your burn, such as small explosions.
- Have a water source near-by, for example, a garden hose, that can reach the entire burn. Consider wetting down the area around your burn pile to prevent it from spreading. You should also have hand tools available.
- Consider breaking down large piles into smaller piles before you burn. Smaller piles are much easier to control and as they burn down you can feed more material into the burn.
- Make sure your burn pile is well away from any structures, cars or other items that you do not want to burn.
- Never leave your burn unattended, even for a moment. It only takes a split second for a burn to escape and do serious damage.
- Make sure your fire is completely extinguished before leaving it. Soak the remnants and mix them with hand tools, then feel for heat. If the remnant are too hot to touch with an ungloved hand the fire is not out and should be soaked more. Some burns have reignited days after they were believed to be out.
- If your fire escapes or you feel like it is getting out of control call 911 immediately. It is much better to have firefighters respond early and assist you, rather than having your fire get away and cause serious damage.
MRFD notes that small recreational cooking or campfires do not require a permit as long as they are smaller than two feet by two feet.
However, they should still be monitored and, of course, completely put out.
General open burning season in Western Montana runs until Aug. 31. However, MRFD notes that due to increased fire danger in the summer months, open burning is usually closed by the end of June or early July.