MISSOULA – Our recent hot and dry conditions had the experts in Helena sending clear warnings on Tuesday as Gov. Greg Gianforte received the 2023 Fire Season Outlook Briefing at the Capitol.
Bureau of Land Management meteorologist Daniel Borsum told the governor to expect a longer fire season this year because of El Niño.
Additionally, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Fire Protection Bureau Chief Matt Hall told Gov. Gianforte that Montana has had 705 fires to date and a staggering 87% of them have been caused by people.
Borsum forecasted this weekend's heatwave to raise fire potential sharply in Northwest Montana, with the rest of the state following suit in the next few weeks.
"Those three counties up there — Glacier, Flathead, and Lincoln — are missing 20 inches of moisture or more in the last five years,” Borsum said. “That is not easily replaced with one rainstorm, three rainstorms, or an entire season. So that area has concerns that are going to linger for a while."
Gov. Gianforte’s response to this data was a clear message to start preparing for fire season now because it will be here soon.
"Be prepared by having an evacuation plan. If you're in an area that's vulnerable to fire you need to be ready to go,” Gov. Gianforte said. “Worse than the loss of structures is the loss of life. You have to get out of the way."
Visit https://www.mtfireinfo.org/ for information on fire restrictions, fire information, and wildfire preparedness and prevention in Montana.
Fire prevention tips include:
- Staying current on weather conditions and fire restrictions in your area.
- Always using an established ring fire and never leaving campfires unattended.
- Ensuring trailer chains are properly secured and not dragging on the pavement.
- Properly maintaining and cleaning farm and lawn equipment.
- Avoiding driving or parking your vehicle, including all-terrain and utility vehicles, on dry grass.
- Using caution when burning debris and never burning piles when it’s hot, windy, or when fire restrictions are in place.