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Prevention, preparedness key to stopping wildfires

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Posted at 4:33 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-10 10:06:22-04

BUTTE — According to the National Interagency Fire Center, Southwest Montana is going to be dealing with “above normal” fire potential.

"Fire is inevitable so we know it’s going to happen. We always plan for the worst because, to be honest, we never know what our fire season is going to be until after it’s already come," said Kristin Mortenson, DNRC Preparedness and Fire Prevention Specialist.

With more people visiting parks during this dry time for Montana, preparation and prevention are key to help stop wildfires from spreading.

Most wildfires are attributed to human activity.

Seventy to 80 percent of fires are human-caused. The number 1 cause of wildfires is debris burning, the second is campfires that have escaped or were abandoned. The third cause is equipment- parking a vehicle on tall grass, target shooting, trailer chains dragging and causing a spark.

At Lewis and Clark State Park, the campgrounds have been full every single night since reopening. Armstrong said that the park takes precautions in order to decrease the chance of a wildfire.

"The first level of fire restriction is smokers have to in an area that’s safe to smoke so we have lots of those areas built in so even though there isn’t a restriction most of the ashtrays are already located in a spot that would be for that," said Rhea Armstrong, Manager at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park.

There are fire pits throughout the campsite. Fire pits within the woods were taken out years ago because they thought it would be harder to control.

"If you have it in the fire ring we consider it safe, but any other place would be unsafe," said Armstrong.

But if a wildfire does start, make sure that you're prepared for the fire and smoke.

DNRC will provide a free wildfire risk home assessment by fire professionals

"Make sure we’re changing our air filters, getting ready for our smoke-filled air that probably will be coming, and preparing our homes and properties," said Mortenson.