The Bitterroot Valley term for open burning is "fencepost-burning season." For the past few days, with dry conditions and warm temperatures, many people are taking advantage of Montana's open burning rules to clear ditchbanks and fields throughout the valley. Sometimes, the plan doesn't work, the fire escapes control, and a few fenceposts are blackened. And the volunteer fire departments rush to the scene to prevent even more damage.

A brief reminder or two from county officials about open burning. First of all, register with the statewide open burning website for Ravalli County. You get get the permit any time, but then activate it on the day you plan to burn. When you burn, make sure you have some people to help out, a ready source of water and a good idea on what the weather is doing. For instance, you can expect significant wind direction changes every afternoon, so try to get your job done early in the day. Be careful, but don't hesitate to call for help if things get out of hand.