BILLINGS - Citing the "very high" to "extreme" fire danger, the Yellowstone County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday ordered Stage II fire restrictions to begin Wednesday at 12:01 a.m.
The action follows several recent large wildfires in the region, including the Robertson Draw fire near Red Lodge that authorities have said was human-caused.
The county entered Stage I fire restrictions on June 15.
"As the community is aware, our area is in a period of exceptionally hot, dry, and windy weather for this time of year," a press release from the county states. "Our neighboring counties have already been hit hard by the devastation that wildfires can cause. As a result, the County Commissioners are taking reasonable precautions to attempt to prevent the potential loss of property, resources, and even life, that can come from man-made fires."
The following activities are prohibited under Stage II fire restrictions:
- Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire for any purpose.
- Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
- Operating a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine, blasting, or welding between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m.
- The use of any combustible entertainment device including but not limited to fireworks, unless granted a permit from the Yellowstone County Sheriff for community-related purposes and subject to the requirements put into place by the Sheriff.
- Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails.
"To be clear, the prohibitions put into place do prevent individuals from igniting fireworks during the upcoming holidays," the press release states. "The County Commissioners understand the need for celebration—particularly this year—and are pleased to note that there will still be approved, permitted fireworks displays at both MetraPark as well as in the City of Laurel. These events have been granted very limited permits and the organizers have agreed to have multiple precautions on hand, including fire departments, water hoses, and the like. As a result, the community will still be able to enjoy the festivities, but in a safe fashion that does not put our homes and our families at risk."
Click here to read the full order.