Fire danger prompts additional restrictions in county, forest

In response to growing fire danger, the Lincoln County Commissioners have joined the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the Kootenai National Forest in raising the current risk level and imposing restrictions on fire use.

The commissioners last Wednesday, July 26, enacted an emergency resolution implementing Stage II fire restrictions.

The resolution cited the collective decision by fire management officers throughout northwest Montana to impose Stage II restrictions in their respective regions. The resolution was made effective at midnight on Thursday, July 27, 2017.

Stage II fire restrictions prohibit building, maintaining, attending , or using a campfire; smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials, and operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails.

The ban also restricts the following activities between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m., with few exceptions.

 

  • Operating any internal combustion engine except on designated roads and trails.
  • Welding, or operating acetylene or other torches with an open flame.
  • Using explosives.

 

In cases where those activities are part of a work exception, a one-hour foot patrol of the area is required prior to leaving the area.

Under Montana law, any person found to be in violation of Stage II requirements is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be held financially responsible for any damages and costs to fight the fire.

“Be it further resolved that as provided by MCA 7-33-2206 and 7-33-2212 any person who ignites any open fire not within the established Stage II Restriction Procedures is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be required to reimburse a fire protection agency for costs incurred for any fire suppression activities resulting from the illegal fire as provided in MCA 50-63-103,” the county resolution read.

Other lands impacted by the restrictions include the Bitterroot, Lolo, Flathead and Kootenai National Forests; all lands under the jurisdiction of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the Northwest and Southwest land offices of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and private classified forest lands.

Weyerhaeuser Company issued similar restrictions for its private forest land in Montana earlier this month, while keeping the land open for public use and access within the specified fire restrictions.