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Early Hunting Season Fire Safety

Flood, Drought & Fire

Fri Aug 05 11:36:00 MDT 2011

With record flooding this spring and rain in July, it is easy to forget that August is fire season in Montana, say Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials.

"As early season hunters take to the field we are especially concerned about accidental fire starts caused when dry vegetation accumulates in a vehicle's skid plate or catalytic converter," said Ron Aasheim, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks spokesman. "Hot temperatures have cured summer's lush vegetation, increasing the likelihood of grass fires."

Driving on roads with drying vegetation along the edges or growing down the middle of a two-track road can and does cause autumn fire starts.

"Hunters have an especially big responsibility to be fire conscious," Aasheim said. "It is a matter of human safety and of protecting the resources of Montana."

Hunters should take the time needed to:

  • Avoid going off road with vehicles and avoid roads with tall vegetation in the middle. If you must drive off road or on vegetated roads, take the time to clean out the vehicles undercarriage/skid plate often.
  • Avoid parking over dry grass and other vegetation. If it is necessary to park in a field, inspect the undercarriage of the vehicle for vegetation that may have accumulated there and remove it before leaving the vehicle.
  • Prior to setting out on a hunt from home, make certain the vehicle's undercarriage and its skid plates are free of all vegetation and other woody debris that may have collected there from a previous trip.
  • Hunters should carry a fire extinguisher, shovel, axe, water, and, if possible, a cell phone for communications in addition to other outdoor safety gear.

Good judgment is essential in the first few seconds of a fire start when it is small and easily extinguished.

"It is also essential to know when to back off and who to call for help if you come upon a fire or accidentally cause one in the outdoors that is too big to easily put out," Aasheim said. "FWP urges hunters to have a personal safety action plan when outdoors, for fire starts as well as in the case of other types of accidents, severe injuries or other emergency."