With hot, dry, windy weather and fires already springing up, county officials are warning people to use extreme caution to avoid fires.
They expect to impose fire restrictions this week.
“People just need to use common sense, ” Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said Tuesday.
A fire near Gildford took two hours to put out Monday, with reports of at least one set of serious injuries. A fire also burned in Havre near the high school football stadium.
The National Weather Service had a “Red Flag Warning” in effect for most of the state east of the Continental Divide including Blaine, Chouteau, Hill and Liberty counties through this morning. That now has been downgraded, with eastern Glacier, Toole, Pondera and Liberty counities and the Lewis and Clark National Forest on the Rocky Mountain Front still under the warning through 9 p. m.
Red Flag Warnings are placed in effect when high temperatures and wind combine with low humidity to greatly increase the chance of fires starting and spreading.
Bessette said the county is likely to impose Stage 1 fire restrictions this week or early next week.
That restriction, typically categorized as a warning rather than a ban, allows fires within pits for fire structures in established campsites, in enclosed gas, propane or butane stoves, use of charcoal in metal barbecues, and fires within cabins using a spark arrestor or screen. The only banned burning is with tiki lights.
In a release warning of the danger, county officials said that fires could start easily in grassy areas and new fires could grow rapidly if the wind catches any open flames. High fuel loads, such as natural grass and vegetation and abundant crops, combined with harvest activities increase the possibility of wild land fires.
People are asked in the release to keep vehicles on established roads, not to drive them through vegetation or crops, not to use open flames and to limit activities in fields or opened land.
Fire departments are on heightened alert and are ready to respond. The release urges people to let the firefighters do their job and ask them before offering assistance.
Only trained and properly equipped personnel should attempt to extinguish wild land fires, the release says.