Less than a week after raising the fire danger to "Very High", the Bitterroot National Forest now has reached the "Extreme" rating. The highest level of danger on the forest was caused by the hot, dry weather and the dry fuel conditions, reaching between 97 and 99 percent throughout the ranger districts.

Fire Management Officer Mark Wilson said, "I don't believe we've ever gone to this fire danger level this early on the forest. Last week, I said our high temperatures and dry fuel conditions were 'unprecedented' and 'record-setting.' You can now add 'historic' to the 2021 fire season, which is already shaping up to be one of the hottest and driest on record."

Those heading out into the woods should keep campfires small and when you leave your campsite, put it out. This past weekend, another abandoned campfire was found by patrols. If you are driving, stay on established roads and do not drive or park on dry grass. The auto exhaust system can start a fire easily. Woodcutters should do their work only in the cooler morning hours and have a shovel and fire extinguisher available. There were 12 more small fires extinguished on the forest this past week. Further restrictions are on their way. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest recently instittued Stage 2 Fire Restrictions. The latest advisories will be on the Bitterroot National Forest Facebook page.

Outside the forest, open burning is now prohibited in Ravalli County and no permits will be issued. Camp and cooking fires are still allowed on private land. Ravalli County Fire Warden Brad Mohn said, "Another problem we deal with often is the improper disposal of cigarettes, especially along the highway. Cigarette butts should never be thrown from vehicle windows."

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