Fire danger has been raised to ‘moderate’ in western Montana

The Missoula County Fire Protection Association has officially raised the fire danger level in western Montana to moderate.

KGVO contacted Kristin Mortenson, community preparedness and fire prevention specialist with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and public information officer with the Missoula Fire Protection Association, for more details.

“I’m part of an organization called the Missoula County Fire Protection Association, and we work locally here in Missoula County to make sure all of our agencies are working together,” Mortenson said. “All fire protection agencies are also members of this organization and it helps us to work together.

Mortenson said looks can be deceiving when it comes to fire danger in western Montana.

“Well, even though there’s a sea of ​​green there and it looks like we’re still very wet and humid, there’s been a lot of drying out and there’s not a lot of precipitation in forecast,” she said. “And so that hotter, drier weather creates drier fuels that become more susceptible to igniting and spreading.”

Mortenson said there are specific triggers that will change the level of fire danger.

“So when we hit certain fuel moisture triggers, it lets us know the fire danger has gone from moderate to high,” she said. “Fire danger is really an indicator of the possibility of a fire in a certain area igniting, spreading and then requiring suppression action.”

Mortenson said every visitor to western Montana’s parks, trails and campgrounds can make a difference and help prevent human-caused fires.

“If each of us could do our part to prevent any wildfire from starting, it would make our job much easier,” she said. “Make sure you know what fire restrictions may be in place wherever you go to play, visit and it will tell you what fire restrictions are in place throughout Montana.”

Capt. Toby Ballard of the Missoula Rural Fire District offered that advice.

“Open burning will be closed and that means general burning will be closed from July 1, so there will be no more burning allowed,” Ballard said. “That way campfires and the like are still allowed. Of course, we ask people to be as careful as possible. Make sure your fire is out when you leave it. That’s one of the main reasons we have wildfires is that people haven’t completely put it out.

Ballard also offered helpful information on water safety this 4e July weekend.

“You see quite a lot of people fishing and not so much tubing because the water is still very cold,” Ballard said. “So it’s something to keep in mind even if it’s hot, is that this water is cold and you can cool down very quickly even on a hot day. You can fall into hypothermia and this will certainly cause problems. The rivers are still quite high and can be dangerous, especially where you can’t see all the colanders and everything in the river. So if people go out on the river I would always say be very careful.

Click here for full information on the fires as the 4e July weekend is approaching.

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