A CRITICAL WEEKEND – PREVENT FIRE - STAY SAFE –STAY IN CONTACT
Across the Northern Rockies Fire crews are struggling with record heat, record drought, and record fires. In Seeley Lake, the Rice Ridge Fire grew by roughly 50,000 acres last Sunday. The Alice Creek Fire by Augusta displayed similar extreme fire behavior. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California are all also in the midst of severe fire seasons. Available overhead, crews, engines, and aircraft are insufficient to meet existing needs in the Northern Rockies, and without a major change in weather or significant increase in available resources we will continue struggle to control or contain large fires and put out new ones before they grow large. A cold front is forecast to pass through the area on Saturday bringing more strong gusty winds, lightning, and little chance of precipitation. Due to these conditions and the lack of fire fighting resources, it is imperative that we prevent all human-caused fire. Fire managers are asking the public to be hyper-vigilant and extra safe.
All of western Montana is now in Stage II restrictions, which prohibit campfires including charcoal fires. In most parts of Montana campfires are not allowed, and even in locations where they are we strongly advise against them. Avoid driving or parking in dry grass and running lawnmowers or chainsaws near dry grass or other flammable fuels. If you are a hunter, visit http://fwp.mt.gov/ for more fire prevention information and be aware that multiple Block Management Areas are closed due to fire danger.
Prevention alone is not enough. Fire managers are asking the public to take responsibility for their own safety:
· Listen to evacuation warnings in your area.
· Obey the instructions of law enforcement and firefighters. There is no property worth a human life
· Drive carefully and slowly in fire areas. Thick smoke hampers visibility and there are lots of trucks, equipment, and firefighters on Montana’s roads and highways.
· If you start or see a new fire, provide for your own safety and call 911. Professional firefighters with expertise and equipment are struggling against these fires. The most valuable service you can provide is to get yourself to safety, report the fire, and then allow professionals the space to safely fight the fire.
Last, stay in contact. Pay attention to fires in your area, and be alert for evacuation notices and safety reminders. Check on the status of nearby fires by viewing the latest fire and evacuation information at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/. Stay in contact with friends and loved ones as you are out recreating this weekend.
The cards are stacked against us. Let’s pull together and do everything we can to prevent another fire and stay safe if one occurs.