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Gallatin County, Bozeman lift fire restrictions—but we're not in the clear yet

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Posted at 6:36 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 20:36:08-04

BOZEMAN — The city of Bozeman lifted its burn ban, but that doesn’t mean we’re in the all-clear yet.

“None of us like the smoke, but it’s a constant reminder of what’s happening in the state of Montana right now," said Bozeman Fire Deputy Chief Mike Maltaverne. "And that reminder is there every day we look up at the Bridgers or we look in the mountains around Bozeman. We see that haze. We smell the smoke.”

Last week, the City of Bozeman lifted its burn ban, and this week, Gallatin County and Custer Gallatin National Forest are lifting bans they’ve had in place for months.

“We’re having less fires in our area right now," said Maltaverne. "We’ve received recent moisture. The temperatures are cooler. It’s returning a little bit back to normal for what we like to see this time of the year. We felt comfortable with lifting that restriction.”

But we’re not out of the fire season just because restrictions have been lifted.

“We still have some fire year left," said Maltaverne. "It’s still August. In Montana, we see our fire seasons go well into September and sometimes even in October, really until the snow flies depending where you’re at.”

And going into this Labor Day weekend, fire personnel are urging residents to use utmost caution as they remember the Bridger Foothills Fire that burned a year from this Saturday.

“If the community can help us out and not have human-caused fires," said Maltaverne. "You know, we can’t do anything about lightning and wind events that knock down power lines, but man, if we could help with the human behavior and have people give us a hand and we finish the year out, that would do us a tremendous favor.”

And to recap, it has been quite the year for fire officials.

“This year, we’ve had about 850,000 acres burn due to wildfires in the state of Montana," said Maltaverne. "We responded to over 2,100 wildfires in the state, and we’ve lost 50 homes.”

So the big takeaways are: (1) The burn ban was lifted, but that doesn’t open the door to carelessness or ease; and (2) pay attention to the jurisdiction you’re in.

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For a closer look at wildfires in Montana and the rest of the United States, click here.

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