Preparing for Fire Season - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Preparing for Fire Season

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BILLINGS - April showers do bring May flowers, and the wet winter has led to growth that could be fuel for fires.

Yellowstone County Emergency and General Services officials say the ground and plants are still moist from the wet weather we've had.

As the temperatures get warmer, and grass grows, it's a good time to start preparing for fire season. The fire potential can increase depending on the kind of weather we get.

"We've seen in the past that can change just almost overnight," said Duane Winslow, director of Emergency and General Services. "You could get a couple weeks of 90 degree temperatures, those, especially the fine grasses, they dry out extremely quick. And they turn into tinder. They can catch the tiniest spark and can start a fire on those in a heart beat."

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, Montana was ranked sixth in the nation in 2013 for the number of wildfires. More than 17-hundred burned in the Treasure State.

"Really be aware that even though you may not think there's a lot of potential for fire, it's out there and as we get warmer it's going to continue to get worse and worse and worse," Winslow said.

Some tips for prevention: clear away brush around your home. Trim trees over your home. Keep fire fuel away from your home to keep it defensible.

Winslow says they're preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. "It just all depends on what kind of precipitation we get from now on. The precipitation we've had up to this point is creating a lot of fuels and if we don't keep those fuels moist then we're going to have a big fire year."

He says the county has worked with firefighters all winter to prepare them.

Here's another tip for when you go camping or fishing. Put out fires completely before you leave them unattended because fire managers say they can be dangerous.

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