Monday morning, based on current and expected weather conditions, fire officials with the Missoula County Fire Protection Association (MCFPA) agreed to move the fire danger in Missoula County to "Very High" starting  at midnight on July 29.

Fire Prevention Specialist Jordan Koppen said that the extremely hot temperatures and rapidly drying fuels led to the change in fire danger.

"Despite the rain last week, conditions in the area are still hot and dry with little relief forecast this week," Koopen said. "Recent lightning caused wildfires have proved that a brief downpour will not always drown a holdover lightning strike. We would like to urge the public to be extremely cautious while recreating. We want people to be very careful with fire, be sure their campfire is dead out and cold to the touch, and be careful if operating equipment in the woods."

Koppen said currently, there are no restrictions for Missoula County, although open burning is prohibited.  All burn permits issued in Missoula County are now invalid.

"In Montana, weather conditions can change dramatically in a short period of time," Koppen said. " The MCFPA would like to thank the residents of Missoula County for being cautious while outdoors and we appreciate your cooperation.  For more information on fire and burning, go to the web, at: www.mcfpa.org."

Fire Information Specialist Jordan Koppen