Safe burning reminder

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It is not open burning season yet but, when it is within the next few weeks, please use caution. Open burning season begins Oct. 1 across western Montana and people wishing to burn yard debris or forest slash-piles should take several precautionary measures to ensure safety, to their own property and to their neighbors. Individuals who ignite fires are ultimately responsible for whatever those fires do, including the cost of suppression in case of a fire’s escape. Although it becomes technically legal to start burning Oct. 1, local fire officials are requesting that people be very careful with burning even after that date.

Open debris burning season annually begins Oct. 1 and lasts until Nov. 30. Burn permits are not required for debris burning during this period, however all people wishing to burn should call the Airshed hotline at 800-225-6779 prior to burning to check for air quality restrictions that may prohibit burning for the day. Restrictions are also posted on-line at Burning during an air quality restriction is a citable violation. Open burning is not allowed in the months of December, January and February in Montana.

Air quality is a very important factor and any burning done must comply with Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulations, which regulate smoke emissions from open burning to prevent and reduce air quality impacts. Smoke is a dangerous pollutant that can trigger respiratory problems, and it is a serious health problem for many people. The DEQ regulates burning activities to keep harmful smoke emissions at safe levels.

You are responsible for making sure your debris burn doesn’t escape your control.  

Some safety factors to consider when burning:

— Burn in small piles so the fire will be hot but manageable.

— Do not burn items such as, but not limited to, household garbage, dead animals, treated or painted wood, tires, oil, chemicals or synthetic materials, such as rubber or plastic.

— Wait until it rains or snows if there is a chance of escape.

— Wet the area down around the piles.

— Clear the area around the pile of dry flammable material and have bare soil within several feet.

— Build the piles in openings away from overhead branches, wires and structures.

— Keep water and tools close by, be ready in case of unexpected changes in the fire.

— Check the weather forecast for unexpected changes .

— Don’t burn when windy.

Call the air quality hotline at 800-225-6779, or visit the airshed website listed above to ensure there are no restrictions.

Burning is only one way to dispose of your debris and reduce fuels. Please consider recycling your paper and cardboard and composting your needles, small limbs and grass clippings. Doing so is safer and more considerate of your neighbors. Burn only natural vegetation and woody materials. State law prohibits the burning of non-vegetative materials such as those listed above.

Please contact the Cabinet Ranger District (406-827-3533), the Superior Ranger District (406-822-4233), the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District (406-826-3821) or the Montana DNRC (826-3851) if you have any questions regarding debris burning or fuel hazards.

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