With near record temperatures in the Bitterroot Valley this past week, local, state and federal fire managers are cautioning local residents to use extreme care when building campfires on the National Forest or when burning slash and other debris around their homes and on their property.
“Fire danger indicators are at an all-time high for this time of year due to the unusually warm weather and rapid snowpack melt,” said Rick Floch, Bitterroot National Forest fire management officer.
“Our fire crews have postponed all prescribed fire activities at this time until sufficient rainfall occurs to modify present fire behavior and intensity. Firefighters will, however, continue to mop up and monitor those burns that have already been completed this spring.”
Fire crews have also reported finding abandoned campfires on the National Forest during the past few weeks. Users of the National Forest are reminded that leaving abandoned campfires is a violation which carries a fine of up to $5,000 and six months in jail. During this high fire danger period, these campfires, if left burning, could result in a wildfire that may threaten the safety of those responding to the fire as well as the public, their homes and property, and adjacent natural resources.
“We are urging residents to be extremely careful if they are burning vegetation on their property or if they burned earlier this spring, to be sure and check those piles and confirm they are dead out,” said Cindy Super, Montana DNRC fire prevention specialist.
Information on current fire danger is available at any Forest Service office and at www.fs.usda.gov/bitterroot. Local fire departments also have information on current fire danger.