Open burning
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Free burn permits are available in Ravalli County, with the burning season beginning March 1.

The county has had a burn permit program since 2015. It was created for a variety of reasons, including preventing unnecessary emergency response from fire departments and limiting the number of false alarm calls to the 911 center. Sheriff Steve Holton notes that in 2017, Ravalli County issued 5,887 burn permits, with 18417 permit activations completed using the internet or the automated phone line. That was 23,304 calls that didn’t interrupt emergency phone calls to the 911 center.

People who ignite burns without a valid permit, or without activating their permit, face fines of up to $500 and/or six months in jail. Anyone who burns in an unsafe manner, damages property or puts another person in danger can be charged with negligent arson, which can be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances.

Burn permits can be obtained online at www.BurnPermits.mt.gov, and chose Ravalli County from the menu. Local fire departments generally issue permits on Saturdays beginning in March.

To activate a permit, go online to the same site and click the activate button, then enter the burn permit number. People also can active permits by calling an automated phone line at 1-866-212-6318. Since burn permit activation only last for 24 hours, people wishing to burn for consecutive days need to call in each day.

Anyone undertaking a controlled burn needs to have water, hand tools and equipment, and enough people to keep a fire under control. Burns that escape may lead to citations and/or fines.

In Ravalli County, burning is allowed on private property but prohibited within the Hamilton city limits.

While the burn season runs through Nov. 30, burning may be closed due to weather, air quality, or other conditions. Recreational fires are limited to less than 48 inches in diameter, must be surrounded by a nonflammable structure, and an extinguishing source must be available.

For more information, contact the Ravalli County Sheriff’s Offfice at 375-4060; Lt. Zae Hudson at 375-4020; or your local fire chief.

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