Burned out! Purchase and activate burn permits

Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Last week up on West Bench, a controlled burn leaped its bounds and burned up to the road by Palisades Basin Ranches. Four fire units responded from Red Lodge Fire Rescue. Later, a tree that smoldered showed some flames. Two RLFR vehicles returned to chop the tree down, kill the embers and douse the burned area around it completely. 

Sheriff Josh McQuillan said, "No charges will be filed, he had a valid burn permit. Local county fire departments have responded to multiple fires this week that started as controlled burns that got out of control.”

Despite this snowy week, the event serves as a reminder that dry conditions can quickly return.  A burn permit is now needed year-round if you intend on conducting a slash-burning fire, land-clearing fire, debris-burning fire or any other type of open fire greater than 48 inches in diameter.

Most importantly, each burn with that permit must be activated-which means that notice is given to the county and notice is received by the permit holder for each proposed burn that conditions are acceptable to activate it. 

The County Burn Permit Service provides citizens with instant access to permits for the purpose of burning natural vegetation. 

Purchase permits at   www.burnpermits.mt.gov or at the Sheriff’s Office, County Administration Building in Red Lodge, the MSU Extension Office in Joliet, or the Bridger Public Library. The cost is only $5.

It must be stressed, each time you plan to use it you must first activate it. Permits may activated online or by calling 1-844-286-7968, 24/7.

According to the County’s website, “The burn permit services is more flexible than issuing State 1 Fire Restrictions for the entire County for an extended period. We hope to use the service in substitution of Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, which will allow people to burn when conditions are right to do so.”

Still, it is noted, “The County Fire Warden may shut down the service and not allow any permits to be activated if weather conditions are not conducive to burning – reducing the risk of controlled burns escaping.”

Permits must be renewed annually.  You may burn multiple times and at multiple locations under the same permit.  

There are restrictions if your burn is approved:

Fires shall not be ignited when weather, wind, and other conditions make it hazardous to do so.

You must have enough water, hand tools/equipment, and people to keep your fire under control.

If you do not activate your permit before burning, the local fire department may be dispatched to your fire, even though it is under control, and you may be cited.

The burn permit must be accessible at the burn location.

Someone must remain with the fire until it is completely out (no smoke or hot embers present)

Natural vegetation is the ONLY thing that your burn permit allows you to burn. 

You are not allowed to burn prohibited materials as outlined in the Montana  DEQ air quality regulations.  This includes, but is not limited to garbage, buildings, asphalt shingles, campers, railroad ties, plastic products, paper products, cardboard, manure and dead animals.

There are exceptions such as leaves in a burning barrel, says the county, and small recreational fires. “Fires measuring less than 48 inches in diameter that are surrounded by nonflammable area or structure (i.e., fire ring), for which suitable source of extinguishing the fire is available, are allowed without a burn permit. This assumes no county-wide fire restrictions are in place.”

If you are within the town limited, note that the incorporated communities of Bearcreek, Joliet, Fromberg, and Red Lodge have adopted the County Burn Permit Service. Residents in those communities can obtain and activate their permit at www.burnpermits.mt.gov. Residents in the Town of Bridger will need to contact the Fire Chief to obtain a permit within that jurisdiction. Within those communities, you can activate your permits at  www.burnpermits.mt.gov.

McQuillan added, “Remind people to purchase and activate their burn permits.”

See: http://co.carbon.mt.us/departments/disaster-emergency-services/burn-perm...