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Dry October leads to dangerous fire conditions in the Flathead

Dry Flathead
Posted at 4:16 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 18:21:08-04

KALISPELL — An extremely dry October means fire season isn’t over yet in the Flathead, drawing concerns from fire management officials with open burning in full swing.

“Until we get some multi-day rains, it’s just really dry out there,” Flathead County Fire Area Manager Lincoln Chute told MTN News.

Chute is warning Flathead residents to be careful with burn piles this October as a lack of precipitation leads to dangerous fire conditions.

“I would probably recommend holding off if somebody asked me, I know I personally am at my house, I’m not burning right now, it’s just a little too dry, we’re going to get some rain or some snow here one of these days and then conditions will be ready for burning." - Flathead County Fire Area Manager Lincoln Chute

Chute said firefighters have covered some close calls with burn piles getting out of control during this dry spell.

He said it doesn’t take much to spark a wildfire right now, like the Patrick Creek Fire south of Kalispell which started early Monday morning. The cause of that fire is still under investigation.

“Luckily we got it caught at about 8 acres or so, but it had some real potential,” added Chute.

WEB EXTRA: Flathead County Fire Area Manager Lincoln Chute discusses wildfire dangers

With hunting season ramping up in Northwest Montana, Chute wants to remind hunters and campers to take extra time to make sure campfires are dead out.

“You know if you have a campfire just try to keep the embers down, keep the fire just a little smaller, once we get a little moisture you can put a little more wood on it but right now it’s probably best just to try to keep those embers down,” said Chute.

He said these dry conditions are likely to stick around for some time.

“Right now, there’s nothing in the forecast showing two to three days of continues rain to really get that penetration and saturation to really drop those fire dangers so just really have to use some extra caution right now,” said Chute.