They're not impacting all Western Montana counties, yet. But residents in two counties will have to comply with more stringent fire prevention regulations starting this weekend.

And with the hot, dry weather forecast to continue now until at least mid-August, it may not be long before residents in other counties will be covered by the precautions as well.

The "Stage 1" fire restrictions don't represent a major burden, but they do require due diligence to make sure people aren't starting more fires.

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Restrictions go into effect Saturday

State and local fire officials had already raised fire danger to "very high" earlier this week, as fire danger jumped following last weekend's triple-digit temperatures, coupled with low humidity and our first "red flag" warnings of the year.

Now, Stage 1 fire restrictions are going imposed for Flathead County, Sanders County, and all State land and private forestlands in both those counties. The step was especially critical in the Flathead, where authorities have had to deal with dozens of human-caused fires in the past few days.

Here are the main rules you need to follow under Stage 1

-Building, maintaining, attending or using a campfire

-Smoking, except inside a vehicle or building or at a developed recreation area, or "stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials"

There are some exemptions, including the use of "liquid petroleum" or gas stoves that can be "turned on and off." Lands within city boundaries are also excepted.

Big fires remain constant headed into another hot weekend

The largest fires in Western Montana, all lightning-caused, continue to bring strong headed into another hot weekend. But firefighters are making progress.

The Colt Fire, northwest of Seeley Lake, has consumed over 5200 acres with 3% containment as of Friday morning. But it hasn't made the big runs we saw last weekend.

The Big Knife Fire near Arlee had burned over 400 acres by late Thursday and still isn't threatening any structures. The Bowles Creek Fire above the Skalkaho in Ravalli County was close to 1,700 acres but has been growing slowly.

For information regarding fire restrictions throughout Montana visit the Montana Fire Info site. Specific restrictions orders and proclamations are provided on the site.

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