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Spring open burning season begins in Western Montana

prescribed burning
Posted at 1:37 PM, Mar 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-01 15:37:47-05

MISSOULA – Spring outdoor burning season began on March 1, 2023, across much of Western Montana.

Missoula County residents are being reminded that all outdoor burning requires a burn permit, and only untreated wood and vegetation generated onsite can be burned.

Permits cost $7 annually and can be purchased or renewed online at or in person at most local fire protection agencies.

Within Missoula City limits, parcels must be at least one acre or more to be eligible for an outdoor burn permit, and recreational fires are banned year-round.

Additionally, inside the Missoula Air Stagnation Zone, it is illegal to burn piles of leaves and grass because these burns are typically very smoky.

Fire officials note that many wildfires occur in the spring due to debris burning and it was the second leading cause of human-started wildfires in Missoula County in 2022.

The Missoula County Fire Protection Association (MCFPA) notes early spring burning can be especially dangerous.

Burning while vegetation is dry and dead, but still early enough in the season that the new growth has not occurred to slow fire spread, can quickly lead to an escaped burn, especially during windy conditions.

“Many people don’t realize the wildfire potential in the spring. If you have a typical spring day in the 40s and add frost-killed dry grass and a strong breeze, you have a recipe for a controlled burn to get quickly out of control. Most people tend to burn relatively close to houses and outbuildings and these structures can become threatened very quickly.” - Missoula Rural Fire District Fire Chief Chris Newman

Visit or to learn more about outdoor burning seasons, permits, and safe burning tips.

Open spring debris burning season also opened Wednesday in the Mission Valley and people are being asked to take the necessary precautions before lighting piles or grass.

The CSKT Division of Fire notes careless debris burning is one of the main causes of wildfire on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

In order to conduct a burn between May 1 to June 30, people will need a burn permit. Permits can be applied for starting on April 30, 2023, at

People are advised to burn early in the day and check the weather for predicted wind conditions.

Also, people should have proper personnel, equipment, and water supply, and should make sure the area is cold to the touch before leaving.

People with questions about debris burning can contact the CSKT Division of Fire at 406-676-2550.

Ravalli County residents are being reminded that burn permits need to be renewed for the 2023 burn season before they can be activated.

Visit the burn permit website to renew at: or use the Burn Permit link on the Ravalli County website.

People who can’t renew online can visit a local library for assistance or contact the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office at 406-375-4060 during regular business hours.