Today, the annual fire season briefing was delivered to Governor Brian Schweitzer. The briefing included presentations from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Northern Rockies Coordination Center, Local Government, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Disaster and Emergency Services and the Montana National Guard.
"While record snowpack, abundant spring rains and cool temperatures kept Montana's wildfire risk low through June and much of July, we're now seeing a more typical summer weather pattern of high daytime temperatures and storm activity with lightning," said Governor Schweitzer.
Fuels are drying out and fire activity has increased substantially statewide over the past two weeks. A major concern this year is the tremendous growth of grasses and other ground-level fuels due to the wet spring; these fuel sources are now curing and could potentially burn.
Even in a "slow" or "average" season, fire crews for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation will respond to 350 wildfires.
"Local, state and federal firefighting operations are always prepared for the season, but wildfire preparedness is your responsibility. Firefighters count on homeowners and rural landowners to do their part by reducing flammable materials from their properties and create defensible space in fire-prone areas," said Schweitzer.
Recreationists, ranchers, equipment operators and others traveling off paved roads should be extremely cautious about where they drive and park -- a hot catalytic converter or muffler that contacts grass can easily ignite a fire. In addition, they should be aware of any restrictions on campfires or other activities before they head into the woods. Homeowners, also, need to be aware of burning restrictions in their individual county.
Visit the FireReady Montana web site at www.serve.mt.gov for more information on how to prepare for fire season.