Interagency Fire Officials made the decision this morning to raise the Fire Danger Level from “High” to “Very High”. When the fire danger is “Very High”, fires will start easily from most causes. The fires will spread rapidly and have a quick increase in intensity, right after ignition. Small fires can quickly become large fires and exhibit extreme fire intensity, such as long-distance spotting and fire whirls. These fires can be difficult to control and will often become much larger and longer-lasting fires.
Hot, and mostly dry weather will continue through the weekend, with thunderstorms expected tonight into Saturday across all of western Montana. On Sunday, a cold front passage may lead to critical fire weather conditions in northwest Montana as winds become breezy and the relative humidity’s drop.
Elevating the fire danger enhances public awareness that wildfire probability increases as temperatures rise and vegetation dries out. Since July 1 there have been a total of 69 reported wildfires in the area; many were lightning caused; with over half being human-caused. As the numbers reveal, human-caused fires are a contributing factor to the overall fire danger situation.
At this time, campfires are banned on Weyerhaeuser property lands in Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, Missoula, Sanders and Ravalli counties due to very high fire danger. Interagency Fire Officials will continue to monitor conditions, and look closely at the number of human caused fire starts to determine if fire restrictions need to be ordered and put in place in the greater Flathead area.
While recreating in the Flathead, please stay on designated roads and never park on dry brush or grass, as exhaust pipes and vehicle undercarriages can be very hot and easily start a wildfire. Please check spark arrestors on off-road vehicles, chain saws and other equipment with internal-combustion engines to ensure they are in working order. Never leaving a campfire unattended, and making sure they are completely extinguished before leaving is something expected of every recreationist.
Additionally, an interagency fire information line has been established in order to streamline calls, share facts and serve the public during fire season. The Office of Emergency Services Information Line is 406-758-2111, and the Interagency Fire Fact Sheet can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/FlatheadOES. Fact sheets will be updated as needed during the fire season.