HAMILTON - The fire danger in the Bitterroot National Forest has been raised to "very high" due to continued dry conditions.
Forest officials note that very high fire danger means that fires start easily from all causes, and immediately spread rapidly.
Small fires can quickly become large fires and exhibit extreme fire intensity. The fires can be difficult to control and will often become much larger and longer-lasting fires.
Spring and early summer rains have resulted in a tall, thick crop of grasses that are now starting to dry and cure, increasing the likelihood of a larger, more intense fire, a news release notes.
People are asked to observe the following fire safety tips:
- Keep campfires small and completely extinguish them before leaving camp. Always add water, stir it, and make sure all embers are out. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave! It is illegal to have unattended campfires.
- Smokers should light up only in areas cleared of all flammable debris. Cigarette butts should never be thrown from vehicle windows.
- Fireworks are illegal on public lands: every forest, every campsite, every day. Never light fireworks in the woods.
- Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained, with nothing dragging on the ground. A loose safety chain or dangling muffler can send a shower of sparks into dry vegetation.
- Keep vehicles off dry grass. The catalytic converter may contact the vegetation and start a fire.
Recreational shooting? Take precautions! Never shoot into dry vegetation and always make sure you’re shooting in a safe location, away from roads, trails, campsites, and occupied areas. Be aware that shooting exploding targets is prohibited on National Forest System lands. For more information visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/visit/know-before-you-go/shooting.
Know before you go. Always check with your local Ranger Station prior to your trip to get the most up-to-date information on fire danger and fire restrictions for the area. Visit www.mtfireinfo.org to learn more about restrictions that are in place throughout Montana.
People are also being reminded not to burn any debris piles as outdoor burning season is closed in Ravalli County, and burn permits are invalid. Visit fireintheroot.org to learn more about outdoor burning seasons, rules, and fire prevention tips.
The Ravalli County Office of Emergency Management notes that grasses and other fine fuels are continuing to dry out. People are being asked to do their part in preventing human-caused fires.
The Ravalli County Office of Emergency Management offers the following fire prevention tips:
- Avoid driving or parking vehicles in tall, dry grass. Exhaust systems and catalytic converters easily start fires.
- Ensure safety chains on trailers or other equipment do not drag, causing sparks.
- Dispose of smoking materials properly. In a vehicle, use the ashtray; outside, crush smoking materials and matches dead out on bare ground larger than 3 feet in diameter.
- Make sure all mechanical outdoor equipment (tractors, chainsaws, off-road vehicles, etc.) are equipped with properly-working mufflers, spark arresters, and bearings.