Fire season is off to a slow start this year, but state officials say drought conditions in eastern Montana and rising temperatures across the state could change that.
During an interim legislative council meeting Friday on environmental quality, Sue Clark with the Department of National Resources and Conservation told lawmakers that the number of fires so far this year is much lower than average.
"However, a swath across the Missouri Breaks up into the northeast corner of the state is critically dry, and we feel we may only be one or two weeks away from critical fire conditions in north central and northeast Montana," Clark said.
Last week Governor Bullock issued an executive order declaring a drought emergency for eastern and central Montana.
Clark says weather conditions are becoming hot and dry across the state.
She says news releases, radio spots, and social media posts are going out this weekend to promote fire safety over the 4th of July holiday.
According the U.S. Department of Interior, up to 90 percent of all wildfires are caused by humans.
The governor's office released the following PSA on fire safety today:
Remember Fire Safety this Fourth of July
Firefighters want to inform you that the potential for wildfires to start is increasing. It only takes one spark, please take extra precautions with fireworks, campfires and other outdoor activities during your Independence Day celebrations.
- Never leave a campfire unattended and be sure the coals are cold to the touch before leaving.
- When harvesting, make certain you have the necessary tools and water close by to suppress a fire: including a fire extinguisher, shovel, and water tank with pump and hose.
- Make sure safety chains, when towing, do not drag, causing sparks.
- Remember that vehicles parked or driven in tall grass can start a fire.
Fireworks are prohibited on state and federal lands; some counties and cities may have bans on fireworks, campfires and open burning. Please check with local officials to see if bans are in place in your area.
Do your part this holiday weekend to prevent human-caused fires. One Less Spark, Means One Less Wildfire!