County Officials Define Stage One Fire Restrictions For Richland County


April 28, 2021 | View PDF

This year has been a particularly dry year for Richland County, which means the area is at a higher-than-normal risk for wildfires. Richland County has experienced a category D3 Extreme Drought, low winter snowfall, low spring precipitation, low water supplies, and high winds.

The region has already experienced significant wildfires, so to prevent wildfires in Richland County, The Board of County Commissioners of Richland County filed the Resolution No. 2021-07. 

The Board submitted a petition to the Governor of Montana to submit a request to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the President of the United States for an agriculture-related disaster declaration for Richland County. This requests to upgrade Richland County from a contiguous drought county to a primary drought county and initiate procedures to proclaim a drought emergency, and open opportunities for state assistance. The Emergency Resolution No. 2021-06,”Open Burning Not Permitted in Richland County,” the Board of County Commissioners declared Richland County to be in Stage One restrictions for burning. This resolution became effective on April 19. 

There are many restrictions that fall under Stage One. According to the resolution these include building, attending, or using a fire, charcoal grill fire, explosive target, warming fire, campfire, or fused explosive. Smoking is also prohibited, except within an enclosed building or vehicle, while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material. Ignition, setting off or using any fireworks that require an open flame that emit sparks, flame, or burning matter is prohibited. Welding/operating acetylene or other torches with open flame, except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter and in possession of a pressurized fire extinguisher, is also prohibited. 

The exemptions of Stage One include activity covered by a written permit from a duly constituted authority that specifically authorizes an act otherwise prohibited. The resolution states that the following are exemptions, “Using pellet grills, electric powered pellet grills, or grills solely fueled by liquid petroleum, LPG fuels, or propane equipped with operable shut-off valves or shut-off switches. Activities in designated areas specifically authorized in those areas by written notice by a duly constituted authority posted at the site of a designated area. Burn barrels with spark arresters, with a pressurized water supply or pressurized fire extinguisher on site, and with continuous human monitoring. Federal, state, and local officers or members of an organized rescue or firefighting force while in the performance of their duties as such officers or members, and other exemptions established by such forces. With a burn permit, other ordinary agricultural activities that use fire such as attended burning of stubble fields and attended burning of irrigation ditch banks, provided however that those engaged in activity notify Richland County 911 and their local fire department beforehand and provide the location of burning, provide the timeframe of such burning, and have fire suppression equipment on site.”


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