HAMILTON - The Bitterroot National Forest (BNF) will put Stage II fire restrictions into effect on Friday due to continued hot temperatures and dry fuel conditions.
“We will be moving directly into Stage II fire restrictions this season,” said Fire Management Officer Mark Wilson. “We decided not to implement Stage 1 restrictions and immediately go to the highest level because we currently meet the conditions for Stage II.”
A news release notes that the current conditions are at the maximum recorded values with the start of August. Additionally, the short and long-term forecasts indicate sustained weather conditions that support continued significant fire behavior through mid-September.
“With current fire activity and predicted weather, we all need to do everything we can to prevent additional wildfires from starting,” stated Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor Matt Anderson. “We are asking the public to recreate responsibly and adhere to these restrictions.
The Stage II fire restrictions will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on all Bitterroot National Forest lands in Montana, including the Anaconda Pintler and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Areas in Montana.
Under the Stage II Fire Restrictions, the following acts are prohibited on federally managed or protected lands, roads, and trails:
- Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire.
- 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 closed of all flammable materials.
- Operating a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine (prohibited 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m).
- Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame.
- Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails.
- Persons with a Forest Service special use authorization, or other authorization specifically exempting them from the effect of this Order. If the authorization allows operation of an Internal Combustion Engine or welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame, such acts are prohibited from the hours of 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Outside of these hours; a one-hour foot patrol in the work area is required following cessation of these activities.
- Persons using a device 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.
- 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.
- Operating motorized vehicles on designated roads and trails.
- Emergency repair of public utilities and railroads conducted.
- Persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized by written posted notice.
- Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.
- All land within a city boundary is exempted.
Forest officials caution that anyone caught violating the restrictions could be fined up to $5,000 and face up to six months in jail. They may also be held liable for all suppression costs and damages if they start a fire.
Visit www.mtfireinfo.org [mtfireinfo.org] to learn more about current fire restrictions in place throughout Montana.
BNF wilderness areas in Idaho — including the Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church River of No Return — are not included in the fire restrictions at this time.