Over two weeks earlier than last year, the Bitterroot National Forest has raised the fire danger level to High on the national forest land. Tod McKay said that at this level, fires will start from most causes and unattended brush and campfires will most likely spread. Last year, July 15th was the first day of High Fire Danger.

Already, there have been 11 human-caused fires and 5 lightning fires on the Bitterroot National Forest. Fire Management Officer Mark Wilson said in a news release that "we are several weeks ahead of normal with our current conditions resembling mid-to-late July. Things are drying out quickly this year, and spring rains resulted in a good crop of grass that can feed a wildfire. People need to be careful when camping, driving in the backcountry and cutting firewood." Most lookouts are staffed and watching the forest for smoke.

The Bitterroot National Forest has the following tips:

  • Keep campfires small and COMPLETELY extinguish them before leaving the campsite. Douse the fire with water, stir the ashes, douse it again. Cold, cold ashes are what you want. Unattended campfires are against the law.
  • Smokers should light up only in areas cleared of all flammable debris. Don't be a flipper, throwing cigarette butts out your car window.
  • Vehicles should stay on established roads and trails. Avoid driving over dry grass and brush and never park on dry grass and brush. Exhaust systems are hot.
  • Firewood cutters should have a shovel and fire extinguisher and chainsaws with spark arresters. Try to cut wood only in the morning.
  • Fireworks are illegal in the forest and campgrounds.
  • Recreational shooting should be in a safe location, away from roads, trails and campsites. Exploding targets are prohibited.
  • Always check the current conditions before you head out into the woods. The ranger stations have the latest informatin. On Facebook, check the Discover BitterrootNF page.

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