HAMILTON - Fire managers in Ravalli County are warning people to use every precaution after a spike in temperatures and strong winds are quickly drying out the forests and fields.
That's coming on top of several significant lightning storms in the past couple of weeks which have created "hold over" fires. All those have been small and contained, with the exception of a blaze that started near Skalkaho Pass Sunday and could burn for weeks.
Commissioners were briefed on the growing danger Monday and told how the fuels are drying out rapidly in both the valley floors and higher elevations. Burn permits were already suspended over the weekend.
"We're transitioning from what was below average conditions to now above average dryness for this time of year," noted Bitterroot National Forest Fire Manager Mark Wilson.
Commissioners are deciding the change is significant enough to immediately cut off all opening burning permits, rather than waiting until mid-week. That ban doesn't affect smaller, recreational fires.