Stage II fire restrictions to remain for now

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Kalispell Fire fighters Adam Smart, left and Jake Hall right, make their way further into the scene of a grassfire near Apple Way on Wednesday afternoon, June 21, in Kalispell. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is reminding residents that Stage II fire restrictions remain in place.

“We are asking the public to be patient just a little while longer,” said Ali Ulwelling, Fire Information Officer for the DNRC. Although rain, snow and cooler temperatures are projected to arrive late Thursday, Ulwelling said that “fire danger will remain extreme until Northwest Montana receives a generous amount of moisture over several days.”

Nearly all of Western Montana remains under Stage II fire restrictions, including Glacier National Park, Flathead and Kootenai National Forests, DNRC’s Kalispell and Stillwater units, and all private land in Flathead, Lincoln, Lake, Sanders and Mineral counties.

These restrictions prohibit campfires, smoking in certain locations, operating an internal combustion engine, welding, or using explosives between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m., and operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails.

Federal, state and local fire management agencies hold a weekly conference call to discuss fire restrictions. During this week’s discussion, the agencies decided to maintain current restrictions “until a few days of substantial moisture is received.”

The National Weather Service projected an 80 percent chance of rain at Glacier Park International Airport on Thursday evening, and 60 percent on Friday with significantly cooler temperatures and snow possibly falling above 6,000 feet.

Earlier this week, Lincoln Chute, Fire Service Area Manager for the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services, told the Daily Inter Lake that it would take two to four days of “constant soaking rain” to seriously curb the fires.

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