With the 4th of July celebration that will undoubtedly carry through the weekend, the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) is asking everyone who visits or drives through the Lolo National Forest to use extreme caution with fire.

Fire Prevention Specialist Jordan Koppen said the recent lightning storms have sparked at least one small fire so far.

“We’ve had a few storms roll through the area with a lot of thunder and lightning, so that’s a caution for the public to be on the lookout for fire starts, and practice ‘if you see something, say something’, and report the incident to 9-1-1 or the Lolo National Forest,” said Koppen. “Also, be extremely careful with any ignition sources that may be out there, especially fireworks. Fireworks are expressly prohibited on any state or federal lands, so if you do go out and purchase fireworks, please understand the laws and shoot them off only in areas where they are permitted.”

When it comes to putting out campfires, Koppen said there are only two words people need to remember ‘Roaring Lion’.

“A lot of people get complacent with campfires and go off without drowning them, stirring the ashes and drowning them again,” he said. “Make sure they’re cold to the touch and that you’re not leaving anything hot that could eventually start a wildfire. The Roaring Lion Fire was devastating and had a negative impact on the entire area, so don’t be responsible for something like that,”

Koppen also asked those working in the forests to be mindful of dragging chains that also might spark a wildfire.

“Let’s just fight the lightning caused fires and leave the human caused fires behind us,” he said.

The Roaring Lion Fire was started when a campfire reignited and caused over $11 million dollars in damage and destroyed 16 homes in the summer of 2016. Three 18 year-old males from Hamilton and one 16 year-old juvenile female were ruled responsible for the fire.

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