What to know about the end of Montana’s fire season

Posted at 9:19 PM, Sep 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-02 23:19:00-04

BOZEMAN – Fire season doesn’t end on a definitive date. Instead, it depends on the weather.

“To really have an end of our fire season we need to have a widespread rainfall that lasts over a successive period of time and allows all that moisture to soak into the fuels and the soil and really moderate that fire growth,” Custer Gallatin National Forest Fire Staff Officer Mike Gagen explained.

But there’s no definite time on when that rainfall will occur.

“When that occurs we’re not sure, we do have a predictive service who just recently released a report that they’re thinking our fire season could go well into October,” said Gagen. “They’re thinking that we will have above normal temperatures through September/October and they’re predicting a fire season-ending event by September this year.”

The resources are there to accommodate a longer fire season.

“We have our crews on through September, we have a smoke jumper aircraft in West Yellowstone and two helicopters – their contracts go through October first so we keep folks on throughout the month of September,” Gagen explained.

Sometimes fire season can last through the end of the year.

“In this area, I’ve been on fires through October,” said Gagen. “By middle October we’re usually done with our fire season but we had crews out in North Carolina a couple of years ago well into Christmas time.”