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Burn bans, water restrictions starting

Region in Red Flag fire warning today

With dry heat following a wet winter and spring, burn bans are going into effect and this region is in a Red Flag fire warning today until 9 p.m.

At 12:01 a.m. today Hill County implemented a burn ban, prohibiting people in Hill County from open burning until the ban is rescinded, and the City of Havre is implementing water restrictions.

Under the burn ban no campfires will be allowed and no burn permits will be issued, but barbecuing is allowed provided all safety regulations are followed.

Blaine County recently implemented a similar ban.

Chouteau County has issued a red flag warning for fires to its residents, as well, due to local conditions, though Chouteau County Commissioner Bob Pasha said they are reevaluating that warning every day.

Liberty County has not implemented any bans but the Liberty County Commission is scheduled to discuss a possible burn ban at a meeting today.

Havre Director of Public Works Trevor Mork said in a press release Monday that the city Water Treatment Plant has reached full treatment capacity and is unable to meet additional water demand at this time.

"Due to the current circumstances, we ask that water usage is restricted for non-essential activities such as lawn irrigation or washing of vehicles," Mork said in the release. "Restrictions for lawn irrigation are for odd-numbered houses to water on odd days and even-numbered to water on even days at the minimum watering necessary. The quality of water produced at the treatment plant has not been affected and meets all regulatory requirements."

The release added that Havre will continue to keep the community informed and will provide additional notifications if circumstances change.

Hill County issued a release stating the burn ban would start this morning.

The release says that the ban prohibits open burning including in recreation areas and prohibits fire districts from issuing burn permits.

Permits already issued cannot be used during a burn ban.

The release defines open burning as burning outside in open air in a fire where any material is burned on the ground or in an open receptacle other than a furnace, incinerator or other equipment connected to a stack or chimney. Open burning includes burning yard debris, brush, construction debris, campfires and so on.

Hill County requires a permit from the local fire district to engage in open burning at any time, the release said

Exceptions in the Hill County burn ban include propane or charcoal cooking in a contained apparatus, enclosed barbecue only.

And the Red Flag fire warning in effect through 9 p.m. for northern and north-central Montana ranges from the Rocky Mountain Front to Blaine and Fergus counties.

The warning says a combination of gusty winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will result in critical fire conditions.

It says the region could see winds with gusts up to 45 mph in an area including Liberty County and gusts up to 35 mph in Blaine, Chouteau and Hill counties with relative humidity as low as 16 percent. Any new fire starts could be difficult to contain in the Red Flag warning areas.

People are urged to use caution and fire control agencies are urged to be at the ready.

The dry heat soared this weekend, the weekend of the Great Northern Fair, with National Weather Service reporting Havre hit 95 Friday, 101 Saturday and tied a record set in 1929 Sunday when it hit 104.

Temperatures are expected to moderate with highs in the mid- to upper-80s in the next few days, but no significant precipitation is predicted.


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