The following is a press release from Missoula County fire officials:

Despite recent rain and cooler temperatures that provided an opportunity for local fire fighters to make solid progress containing and controlling most fires in west central Montana, wildland fire agencies continue to respond to human-caused fires, and caution the public that the recent cool weather only provided short-term relief. Today, Missoula County fire officials lowered the fire danger only slightly: from EXTREME to VERY HIGH. The fire danger rating is largely determined by current and expected weather conditions and how those conditions affect the expected intensity of fires that start.

Agencies continue to respond to unattended campfires and fires caused by dragging tow safety chains along roadways. Recent cool, wet weather has been the primary reason that local fire fighters have managed to keep those fires small during successful initial attack.

Current weather forecasts describe a return to hot and dry conditions in the area by mid-week. As fine dead fuels begin to dry out rapidly in such conditions, fire fighters will face increasing challenges during initial attack.

Therefore, fire managers in the West Central Montana Restrictions Area will maintain Stage I Fire Restrictions on all federal, state, county, and municipalities that announced their implementation on August 1st. For a list of current restrictions, please visit: www.firerestrictions.us