The wet weeks of spring are long passed, and the dry days of summer are here, bringing with them increasing wildfire danger and some seasonal policy changes.

Jordan Koppen with the DNRC (Department of Natural Resources and Conservation) said on Tuesday that the open burning season is rapidly coming to a close.

"We're starting to see things drying out and we're getting quite a bit of hot weather. plus we've had a few little thunderstorms here and there," Koppen said. "It's time to start being cognizant and cautious about things that can burn out there. Friday night at midnight, we are going to close the open burning season in Missoula County."

Koppen said some residents in the area have taken his advice to invite DNRC, fire department or forest service personnel onto their properties to help them prepare for wildfire season.

"Some people are taking advantage, and when they do, they realize they didn't know that juniper bush could catch fire and set my home in fire," he said. "They have mulch right around their home and I'm trying to tell them that a five foot buffer of gravel could make a difference. Or, there are so many wood shake roofs out there and just one ember than lands in an ember trap, your home could go up in flames. We'd be happy to do a walk-around your home and help you prepare for fire season."

With the 4th of July around the corner, Koppen has an important reminder,

"Fireworks are prohibited on all state and federal forest lands," he said. ":We're starting to see more hot weather in the forecast," he said. "The grasses are drying quickly and increasing the potential for starting fires. No fireworks, so that we won't be putting firefighters in danger."

Koppen also said the official fire danger will be moving higher soon.

"It's moderate right now," he said. "With the drying conditions I can see in our future that in the next week to week and a half, we can probably bet on going to 'high'."

Kopen said the number to call for more information is an easy one to remember for the DNRC office in Missoula, it's 542-4321.

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