HAMILTON — Ravalli County commissioners are banning open burning, with growing concerns over how the hot, dry weather is accelerating the risk of wildfires.
It's not only haying season in the Bitterroot, but also fire season, as all the grass and brush that grew high during the wet weather in late May and early June is baked in the 100° temperatures.
The snow in the high country is vanishing rapidly and with the Fourth of July upon us, there's the increased risk that camping and fireworks will mean volunteer fire departments could be slammed this weekend.
Thursday morning, fire officials urged commissioners to halt to open burning, removing the danger of a burn getting out of control.
While that doesn't outlaw recreational fires, residents are being advised to use the utmost caution.
"And there's opportunities for recreational fires, especially over the holiday weekend," said Ravalli County Emergency Management Director Erik Hoover. "But we're really asking folks to be careful with those."
"Have a source nearby, whether a hose or a fire extinguisher, to try to take care of those if they get out of control," he continued. "And certainly get them fully extinguished even on your own properties when you get done for the evening."
Hoover says there have already been at least two blazes caused by fireworks in the Bitterroot Valley this week.