Open burning closed in Jefferson County to help limit respoders face to face calls

Posted at 4:07 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 20:02:43-04

HELENA — Jefferson County has closed debris burning to help limit potential COVID-19 exposure to first responders.

“The main reason for this is to reduce the face to face interactions of our responders, and keep them healthy for how long it takes us to get through this,” said Doug Dodge, Jefferson County fire warden/DES coordinator. “A lot of our volunteers are also older in age and that was a big factor for us.”

On Monday the Jefferson County Fire Council closed open debris burning effective until at least April 10.

Fires larger than 48 inches in size are prohibited by the closure. Campfires are not affected.

Dodge noted debris burning is one of the leading causes of fire response calls in the spring.

“Especially before the spring green up,” explained Dodge. “If we get a wind event or people aren’t paying attention, those fires can get away easily.”

Dodge also noted that certain fire mitigation work can be dangerous, like felling a tree or cutting up wood.

People are asked to use common sense and hold off any larger projects for the time being. That way people won’t need medical care that could have been avoided.

“We’re just asking folks to be careful more than anything,” said Dodge. “Make good decisions in regards to what mitigation projects you want to work on. Just try to be safe and try to again alleviate any possible demand on our resources.”

As of March 31, burning remains open in Lewis and Clark County, but people are asked to take extra care to be safe.