HELENA – Fire officials warn that Lewis and Clark County is on the cusp of needing Stage I fire restrictions after an active fire weekend.
Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bob Drake delivered the most recent Wildfire Outlook Briefing during the Aug. 14 Lewis and Clark County Commission meeting.
Drake reported that the county has gone 47 days without significant rain and moisture levels for most fuel sources are critically low.
A predicted storm front coming into the state has the potential to bring a significant amount of moisture and would stave off fire danger.
If there is no significant rainfall, soon Drake believes stage one fire restrictions, although they are not popular, will need to be implemented.
“We’re talking about fire restrictions to prevent human caused fires so that we can concentrate on the ones that we don’t have any control over,” said Drake.
Stage I fire restrictions would mean that building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire would be prohibited.
Smoking would also be prohibited except in an enclosed vehicle or building.
Drake believes fire activity has not yet peaked for 2018 and the public needs to be very careful given the dry conditions.
“Just because you can build a fire doesn’t mean you should,” said Drake, “The consequences and burden of causing a wildfire will stay with you for the rest of your life.”
According to officials, local fire departments were run ragged this weekend responding to numerous fires across the county.
Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department responded to a small fire on Aug. 12 where the homeowner was able to put the fire out prior to their arrival.
Drake said that if it is safe to fight the fire with a hose or bucket to do so after you notify authorities.
“It’s a whole lot easier to put out a fire when it’s the size of a candle than it is when it has become an acre,” said Drake.