NewsMissoula County


Warmer, drier forecast prompted hike in Missoula fire danger

Posted at 9:58 AM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 11:58:38-04

MISSOULA – Officials hiked the fire danger to “high” in Missoula County on Monday as we move into the middle of summer.

With a warmer and drier forecast – officials say vegetation is beginning to cure, which means perfect fuel for a wildfire to spread.

Crews have responded to fires started by lightning, but also by people not following the rules. Fire managers point out that outdoor debris burning is closed.

As for Mother Nature, we saw heavy rain this past weekend — which helps keep foliage wet.

But, as Jordan Koppen with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation says that the rain also helps growth — which could mean more fuel in the back half of summer.

“Now that we’ve gotten all this moisture, it can really create an issue with a lot of overgrowth,” he explained.

“We’ve had a lot of green, a lot of rain, and a lot of moisture and things grow tall and when those cure out and dry out – we’ve got a lot of fuels that will burn pretty hot and pretty dry and pretty rapidly,” Koppen added.

Fire crews also responded to several small lightning fires in the Bitterroot over the weekend.