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Fire Season and Statewide Restrictions Extended

Campfire restrictions are still in effect in Ravalli County and Missoula County and open burning restrictions have been place for months.

Now, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has extended the fire season past its usual end date, September 30. State Forester Bob Harrington told the Associated Press this week that restrictions will not be lifted until there is a “significant” change in the weather that reduces fire risk.

Two new human-caused fires were reported near Roundup and southeast of Lame Deer. That area of the state is also affected by the continent’s widespread drought. The weekly US Drought update showed the drought has worsened. Last week, 64.8 percent of the contiguous US was affected by drought. This week, that number is 65.5 percent, with 21.5 percent in extreme or exceptional drought.

In the Bitterroot Valley, the air quality has improved a little. Thursday morning, the air monitor at the Ravalli County Courthouse in Hamilton reported “Moderate” air quality and was moving slowly up into “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.”

The Sawtooth Fire continues to burn on the south ridge of Sawtooth Canyon to the west, into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Not much movement was reported on the other large fires to the west and south.

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