Ravalli Co. open-burning restrictions to remain in effect


Ravalli Co. open-burning restrictions to remain in effect

HAMILTON, Mont. - Compared to fires burning in other states, Montana can probably be thankful we haven't seen more fires.

With recent rain showers, it's fairly green for August.

Wildland fire agencies in west-central Montana will rescind Stage 1 restrictions Saturday morning.

The change affects state and federal lands in Missoula and surrounding areas. But all fire officials are still urging caution.

In Ravalli County, open-burning restrictions are still in effect.

Emergency and Sheriff's Department leaders met with commissioners Wednesday morning. They told them the fire warden advised Ravalli County to keep its open-burning restrictions. Commissioners took that advice.

Rain has helped, but take a drive through the county and you can see how dry non-irrigated areas are.

"Our fire crews are still seeing extremely dry conditions," said Emergency Management Director Erik Hoover.

In Ravalli County, open burning remains prohibited. Burn barrels, slash burning, open fires, and fireworks are off limits too.

Smoking should be done indoors or in clear, bare areas.

There are campfire restrictions.

"They require those fires be attended until they're completely extinguished," said Hoover, "and built in clear and bare areas."

Grassfires in Ravalli County are still on the upswing.

Sheriff's Lt. Zae Hudson told NBC Montana those are mostly human-caused.

"Whether that's by open flame through a burn barrel, or an open fire, or through mechanical means," said Hudson, "such as a brush hog, or a vehicle going through tall, dry grass."

NBC Montana met Brett Johnson as he was mowing his lawn at his house east of Hamilton.

His lawn was green and moist. He has a couple brush piles that are ready for burning. But Johnson told us he will wait to burn them until the fall, when it's cooler.

Johnson showed us a fistful of dry pine needles in the piles, and with a breeze blowing, showed us just how dangerous it could be if they were set on fire.

"If this was to catch fire," said Hudson, "it would go off like a bomb."

He released a few needles, with dirt, into the wind, and said, "You can see how it wants to go in the direction of my neighbor's house."

Johnson is very careful when he mows the lawn.

There's a dry patch that he mowed early in the morning, when it was cool, and even then, kept a hose ready in case there was a spark from his lawnmower.

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