The hot weather in the Pacific Northwest is sending forest fire danger higher and higher in Montana. Governor Steve Bullock declared a fire emergency in the state Sunday. That allows him to activate the National Guard if needed and opens up other support sources.

The Bitterroot National Forest raised the danger level to "Very High" over the July 22nd weekend. Missoula County has now reached "Extreme" fire danger.

The Ravalli County Commissioners, on the advice their fire officials, will institute Stage 2 Fire Restrictions at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

Those rules prohibit campfires in the county, along with continued ban of any open burning. Camping stoves using liquid petroleum are allowed. Smoking can only be done in buildings, enclosed vehicles or cleared areas outdoors. There are what are called "hoot owl" restrictions on such things as firewood cutting with chainsaws in the woods. No such activity from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. each day, with at least an hour patrol of the area after work has stopped. There are exemptions for agricultural activities.
For more information, check the restrictions website.

Tod McKay of the Bitterroot National Forest says the Dominic Butte Fire remains at 55 acres east of Corvallis. The Tin Cup fire is still at 5 acres at the head of the Tin Cup drainage. The 5-acre White Cap and 15-acre Vance Mountain Fires in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness are being monitored.

Smoke in the valley is mainly coming from the Moose Creek 1 fire in the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness and the Lolo Peak Fire west of Lolo Peak. Air quality in Hamilton has been "Moderate."

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