HELENA — With the Fourth of July holiday swiftly approaching many may be looking to seek refuge from the hustle and bustle and get outdoors, whether it be for a weekend or a few hours.
With the holiday approaching, the Helena-Lewis and Clark National forest service is asking people to be extremely cautious this summer due to the dry, hot conditions the state has seen over the last few weeks.
"We can all help firefighters this season with this hot and dry pattern of weather we're seeing. That includes things like having the right tools to put out your campfire, making sure your chains are secured if you're hauling a trailer," said HLCNF Public Affairs Officer Chiara Cipriano.
Cipriano noted those leaving behind a campfire should leave the coals cool to the touch by using the pour and stir method, which involves wetting the embers and stirring until they are cool.
With the Fourth of July on the way, fireworks are a hotly contested topic as well, with Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department posting this note on early Thursday morning.
Fireworks are illegal on all public lands, state or federal, and carry heavy fines if caught with them. Though there are places to legally light off fireworks this year, West Valley Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jerry Shepherd said this year it may not be prudent to light off fireworks with the dry, hot conditions.
"The fact that all the grasses in the valley are cured, ready to burn. They may look green, but they're burning like crazy. Temperatures over 90 [degrees], humidity under 9%. That is just the trifecta for unpredictable fire behavior," said Shepherd.
Shepherd noted there will definitely be people who light off fireworks or live near people who intend to light them off, and all he hopes for is that people are safe.
"You really can't control what other people are going to do. So the one thing I would suggest is around your property, mow it, get it mowed down. So, that if you do have big weeds coming into your fence, or your garage, or your shop, or your house, get that mowed down. So there's a buffer zone. We need to get some buffer zones out there," said Shepherd. "My big concern is the valley. There's still some good, nice, green grass in the mountains, but out here in the valley, as everybody knows, it's dry."