MISSOULA, Mont. - Fire officials took fire danger down a peg today, from "Extreme" to "Very High". Rainfall across most of Western Montana last week allowed moisture to seep into dry grass and other fire fuels.
Unfortunately, this will be a temporary reprieve as we are expected to dry out again this week. An unusually dry month of July, the 5th driest on record in Missoula, has allowed drought conditions to expand across the state.
Ravalli and Granite Counties are in a moderate drought along with the entirety of the southwestern part of the state. Madison County is under extreme drought conditions. With a dry period expected, Stage 1 fire restrictions remain in place for Missoula County despite the fire danger downgrade. Most of West-Central Montana remains in those Stage 1 restrictions.
Currently, the 2013 fire season is on pace to have burned the 2nd lowest acreage in the past 5 years. Only around 1.5 million acres have burned in the state so far this year. The Montana wildfire season is far from over though, so these statistics are subject to change.