Hotter and drier weather is predicted with the possibility of thunderstorms starting today into early next week. When fire danger is “high” fires will start from most causes. The fires will spread rapidly and short-distance spotting is common. All fine dead fuels ignite readily and unattended brush and campfires are likely to escape. High intensity burning may develop on slopes, or in concentrations of fine fuels. Fires may become serious and their control difficult unless they are hit hard and fast while small.
At this time there are no fire restrictions in place, however with drier conditions and “high” fire danger, visitors are reminded to be careful while recreating in the forest.
Those planning camping trips should follow these fire safety tips:
Be sure to pack a shovel and a bucket for extinguishing your campfire. Keep campfires small, and completely extinguish them before leaving camp. The best method is to douse the fire with water, stir the ashes and douse again, making sure that all ashes are cold to the touch. It is illegal to have unattended campfires. ALL fires must be DEAD OUT when left unattended and before leaving the site.
Smokers should light up only in areas cleared of all flammable debris. Cigarette butts should never be thrown from vehicle windows.
Those exploring the forest and back country in vehicles must stay on established roads and trails and avoid driving over dry grass and brush that could be ignited by hot exhaust systems. Firewood cutters should operate chainsaws equipped with spark arresters in the cool morning hours and keep a shovel and fire extinguisher nearby.
This year, firefighters on the Bitterroot National Forest have extinguished 30 lightning caused fires and 11 person caused fires. Stay in touch with the FS through www.facebook.com/DiscoverBitterrootNF and www.twitter.com/BitterrootNF.
Interagency wildland fire officials with the Missoula County Fire Protection Association (MCFPA) are reporting fire danger indices within Missoula County to be VERY HIGH.
Future forecasts call for hot and dry conditions without moisture. After a wet spring, fuels have dried to the point that fires will quickly spread out of the control of initial attack resources. Fine dead fuels are the primary carrier of fire in the wildland, and when fires get established in this fuel type they spread out of control rapidly. This past week there have been multiple fires, caused by human behavior (unattended campfires, debris burning, harvesting equipment and vehicle fires) have been reported in recent days and we’d like to put an end to human caused ignitions so please do your part.
Outdoor debris burning by permit has been closed in Missoula County since July 2. More information is available at www.mcfpa.org.