A combination of hot temperatures and a lack of moisture in the past two weeks caused the Missoula County Fire Protection Association to raise the fire danger level from ‘High’ to ‘Very High’ on Monday.

Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Fire Prevention Specialist Jordan Koppen said the decision was made early on Monday afternoon.

“Things are starting to cure and dry out even more,” said Koppen. “We have this high pressure system over us now where we’re just getting those hot consecutive dry days. It’s still pretty green out there, but you’re starting to see a lot of things dry out and get a little bit brown. That’s a little bit of a red flag for fire officials through the Missoula County Fire Protection Association. We’re trying to tell the public to be super careful out there because we’re starting to get a lot of human caused fires and it’s not necessary, so we need to be a lot more careful with our ignition sources around Missoula County.”

Koppen said western Montana has been fortunate not to have had any lightning storms this month. The lightning sparked several large fires in July 2017, burning hundreds of thousands of acres of forest.