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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Montanans can expect normal wildfire risk in July, fire forecasters say

Montana is at a normal potential for significant wildland fire for the month of July, according to a recent National Interagency Fire Center outlook.
National Interagency Fire Center
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Montana is at a normal potential for significant wildland fire for the month of July, according to a recent National Interagency Fire Center outlook.

Montana’s cool, wet spring and early summer is on the cusp of giving way to hotter and drier conditions. That means the summer wildfire season will soon ramp up, although experts say the potential for significant fires remains normal this month throughout the Northern Rockies.

A few weeks ago, the National Interagency Fire Center anticipated Montana’s wildfire risk would bump up to ‘above normal’ for July, but several factors prevented that from happening. Those include this year’s late green-up, the lack of sustained extreme heat and the expectation of near-average temperatures and precipitation for July.

No significant large fires were reported anywhere last month in the Rockies. Fast initial attack is keeping smaller fire starts to a few acres or less in size.

Drought conditions improved statewide this spring, according to a National Drought Mitigation Center report. One notable exception is north central Montana.
National Drought Mitigation Center
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Drought conditions improved statewide this spring, according to a National Drought Mitigation Center report. One notable exception is north central Montana.

Montana’s latest drought outlook report shows conditions improved statewide this spring. One notable exception is north central Montana which picked up only marginal moisture and remained mostly dry during what is typically one of the region’s wettest times of the year.

NIFC anticipates central Montana’s wildfire potential will increase to above normal starting next month.

Fireline probes the causes and consequences of the increasingly devastating wildfires burning in the U.S. It taps into the experience of firefighters, tribal land managers, climate scientists and more to understand how we got here and where we're going.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.