NewsWildfire Watch


Officials urge caution due to dangerous wildfire outlook

Posted at 6:38 PM, Aug 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-07 23:22:15-04

HELENA – Local fire officials are cautioning the public that the 2018 fire season could extend into October.

Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bob Drake delivered the Wildfire Outlook Briefing during the August 7 Lewis and Clark County Commission meeting.

Drake reported that the county has gone 40 days without significant rain and moisture levels are critically low right now.

“Right now we have no moisture in the forecast,” said Drake, “that has extended the significant fire potential to the 1st of October.”

“People need to be very mindful of the conditions,” commented Commissioner Susan Good Geise.

Fire officials warn that the current dry fuels have the potential of being very dangerous because of how quickly they start up and can move.

“Down in the valley things are very dry,” said Drake, “We are ready to burn, down where the houses are.”

Federal, state and local agencies hold a conference call each week to discuss fire conditions and determine whether to call for fire restrictions.

Fire officials are asking the public to be especially careful when out recreating in the coming weeks.

People are asked to make sure the chains on their trailers aren’t dragging on the road since they can spark and not park their vehicles in tall grass after driving them.

Those enjoying the outdoors should also ensure their campfires are completely out before leaving.

“If you start a campfire it has got to be dead out,” said Drake, “That means stick your hand in the fire when you’re done watering it and make sure it’s dead cold.”

When fire crews need to respond to small human-caused fires, it take up resources that could be used elsewhere.

Fire officials added that with college firefighters returning to school soon every unit is even more needed.

Drake added fire officials can warn people but ultimately it’s up to the public to prevent human-caused fires.