HAMILTON — The fire danger on the Bitterroot National Forest is set to rise again, just four days after entering "Extreme" fire danger.
Stage II fire restrictions will go into effect on Saturday due to record-setting temperatures and dry fuel conditions.
“We will be moving directly into Stage II fire restrictions this season,” said Mark Wilson, Fire Management Officer. “We decided not to implement Stage I restrictions and immediately go to the highest level because we currently meet the conditions for Stage II.”
This marks the first time since August of 2018 that the Bitterroot National Forest has implemented State II fire restrictions. Forest officials note the current conditions are matching the record conditions of 2017 and are already drier than average August conditions.
“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 1:01 a.m. Saturday for all Bitterroot National Forest lands including the Anaconda Pintler and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Areas in Montana.
The following acts are prohibited on federally managed or protected lands, roads, and trails:
- Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire.
- 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 an Internal Combustion Engine.
- Welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame.
- 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 in accordance with the attached conditions set forth in Exhibit A.
- 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.
Anyone caught violating the restrictions could be fined up to $5,000 and face up to 6 months in jail. They may also be held liable for all suppression costs and damages if they start a fire. Click here to learn more about current fire restrictions in place throughout Montana.
Bitterroot National Forest 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.
There have been 34 wildfires on the Bitterroot National Forest; 14 human-caused and 20 lightning fires.