Just hours after the county went under an "Extreme" fire danger designation, Missoula County Commissioners voted this morning, June 30, to enact Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, which will be enforced starting Thrusday morning, July 2. These restrictions will ban open campfires in the county will have an effect on Independence Day celebrations.

“One of the things, particularly pertinent this time of year, is that it will ban fireworks in Missoula County over the 4th of July weekend due to the recent high weather and extremely dry fuels out in the forest,” said Missoula County Operations Officer Chris Lounsbury. It has been many years since we have been this dry in July, so there was a lot of talk about the implications… this was not a decision that the county commissioners took lightly.”

Lounsbury says Missoula County is drying out months faster than usual.

“Just look at the weather out there, and how dry everything already is here in July, a condition that we are not usually at until late August in Missoula County,” Lounsbury said. “It was a move that commissioners decided to make to ensure that the public was safe. It’s also, of course an educational tool, for people that recreate in the forest, or even on their own property, so that they recognize just how dry it has become even this early in the year.”

The talk didn’t stop at banning fireworks, Lounsbuy says the county commissioners also discussed Stage II fire restrictions and says he wouldn’t be surprised if they are enacted this year. After stage II fire restrictions, forest closures can occur. That hasn’t happened since 2000.