Recent rains and cooler temperatures have combined to take the fire danger rating from VERY HIGH all the way down to MODERATE in Western Montana. Missoula County Fire Protection Association Secretary Chris Johnson explains.

“Normally we will get a few wet cells this time of year with a thunderstorm here and a thunderstorm there,” said Johnson. “We will drop normally from VERY HIGH to HIGH to MODERATE over the course of a few weeks. This was pretty widespread rain across Western Montana. As cold as it is, that water stays on the ground a little longer and gets the fuels a little more moist and drops us all the way down to moderate.”

Stage One restrictions are still in place in some counties across Montana, but Missoula is not one of them.

“Missoula County did not go into Stage One this year,” Johnson said. “The Lolo National Forest and Missoula County embassies didn’t direct us into any kind of Stage One restrictions for the first time in about five years. Missoula County never went into Stage One. We got up into VERY HIGH fire danger, but I don’t think we climbed to EXTREME this year unlike other years.”

The General Outdoor Burning season for yard debris cleanup is closed until March, but Prescribed Wildland Burning and Essential Agriculture Burning are now open with a valid permit.