HELENA — It’s been a very active fire season in Montana, with more than 1 million acres burned throughout the state leaving a lot of spots looking charred. Even though those fires are long out in most spots, there are still a lot of things we need to think about when in these burnt areas.
“You know some of these fires, if they burn really hot, some extreme fire behavior it pretty much nukes everything around and then the next shot of rain we get or in the springtime when the snow is running off you see some pretty significant landslides in places," said DNRC Helena Unit Fire Management Officer Chris Splienthof.
With snow starting to pop up in the forecast and hunting season well underway, this is a reality that needs to be thought about.
Chris also pointed out that in addition to looking and the soil we need to keep looking up too.
"Then of course, everywhere you look there is dead and downed trees," he added. "A lot of them are pretty darn dry all the way throughout, so they are ready to come down without fire."
Then there are some of the changes fighting the fire might cause.
"Some of the roads, maybe burns and different things, equipment has moved, might look solid and safe, but you don’t know," continued Chris. "A blade might have pushed something there that looks like part of the road that could just be something loose. So a little bit of everything. We have a lot of heavy equipment too. Sometimes on those tight roads, tight corners, our vehicles, a lot of them have duallies, a wide footprint. They can shave or knock some corners off those roads, especially on the inside corner. So just keep an eye on the little things like that. It’s hard on the land in general. So, a lot of rocks come down, you know things that are held by trees, dead logs things like that. When they burn all that stuff’s loose."
Chris also told me that just because a fire moved through an area doesn’t mean you can let your guard and be careless with sparks. There is still fuel that can light up again even if it looks like everything was burnt. So bottom line, always be careful and if you have any questions reach out to the Department of Natural Resources, Forest Service, FWP or any other local agency.