Outdoor burning season is underway, and fire officials are getting the word out on safe burning techniques.

Missoula County Fire Protection Association Secretary Chris Johnson explains why this time of year is best for outdoor burning, by permit only.

"Traditionally here in western Montana, this is when we get our wettest weather, so burning now while the surrounding grass is still wet is the best possible time to burn," Johnson said. "This is also the time we have the cleanest air of the year, so the combination of those two things makes this the ideal time to get that burning done."

Johnson outlined the most common mistakes people make that lead to an out-of-control fire.

"Interagency Wildland Firefighters rolled on 20 fires for about 50 acres last year," he said. "Just about every time they rolled out, there were certain things in common with all those fires. First of all, people's piles weren't separated by a fire line from the pile to the surrounding dead grass, so the fire crept into that dead grass and took off. The second thing that folks did was they burned on windy days. Even if they did have a fire line, the sparks blew into the grass and the fire was off and running."

Johnson said once someone activates an outdoor burning permit, they should never leave their fire unattended, but have a hose with water, a tool to knock down the fire and help available close by.

Outdoor burning permits are available through the county burn permit and notification website.

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