MISSOULA — Despite the wet, cool weather, fire officials in Missoula County say the fire season is not over with.
The Missoula County Fire Protection Association (MCFPA) reports there were eight human-caused wildfires in the county over the past week because of abandoned campfires, illegal debris burning, and careless sparks.
They say firefighters have been working long hours, running from one side of the county to the other because of human carelessness.
The fire danger in the Missoula area remains at "Moderate" despite the chilly mornings and periods of rain or snow. Additionally, the area is still under severe drought and the precipitation received so far has not been widespread.
“Even though the rain is bringing a much-needed reprieve from the current dry conditions, long term drought conditions remain in effect. Recreationists need to be cognizant of where they have a fire, especially if utilizing the canopy of a large tree. If utilizing a tree canopy or something similar, in order to get out of the weather, understand also that those weather impacts may not be affecting the dry fuels that are also sheltered from the canopy," noted DNRC Southwestern Land Office Missoula Unit Fire Management Officer Ashleigh Burwick.
Missoula County has experienced 185 wildfires this year, with nearly 70% of those caused by humans, according to a news release. While abandoned campfires are a leading cause, illegal or careless debris burning is the top cause.
Outdoor burning in Missoula County is by permit only, and the only burning that will be permitted currently is prescribed wildland and essential agriculture burning. Within Missoula City limits, parcels must be at least one acre or more in size to be eligible for an outdoor burn permit and recreational fires are banned year-round, with exceptions for barbecues.
General Burning Season is closed until March 1, 2022. Click here for additional information on outdoor burning seasons, permits, and current restrictions.