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Flathead fire officials urge caution while performing open burning

Spring open burn
Posted at 4:05 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 18:08:13-05

KALISPELL — The changing fire seasons are also changing how officials fight wildfires.

The National Interagency Fire Center reported that between Jan. 1 to March 4, more than 8,300 fires have been reported. A total of nearly 198,000 acres have burned.

Spring open burning has begun in some Montana counties and fire officials want people to be prepared for the fires that could quickly grow out of control.

“Historically the last quite a few years we have some of our bigger fires in the Flathead Valley in open burn season,” said Flathead County Fire Area Manager Lincoln Chute.

Spring is a great time to clean up the yard and garden debris ahead of the dry summer months, but Chute says weather conditions can change rapidly.

“If there’s no wind, it will just kind of move around and chew through, but if a light breeze comes up like typically in the valley about 1 p.m., it can get out of control quickly,” added Chute.

Chute said keeping the grass mowed at least 30 feet from your home can be a lifesaver if a fire gets out of control.

“You know mow those 30-40 feet around them so, your probability of an ember getting out and lighting something is really easy to handle it and put it out quick, just a smoldering spot in mowed grass versus tall grass,” Chute explained.

He said residents should take a close look at weather forecasts and contact air quality before they start burning.

“On those rainy days or a light skiff of snow, those are the days to burn the piles, you will have a lot less problems getting out spotting embers blowing out of it so, just taking some of those precautions you know, having tools, having some water, will make a real difference,” said Chute.

Spring open burning season runs through April 30. A permit is required beginning on May 1.