By Montana Grant

Posted: May 5, 2022

Montana forest and grass fires seem to be more common than ever. Our decade of parched, drought conditions has been no help. Fire seasons also seem to be happening year around, rather than in fire season. 

How do most fires start in Montana? Many people talk about how steel bullets ricocheting off rocks, broken glass magnifying a spark, spontaneous combustion, and other unique ignitions are the reason. These type of fire starters may happen rarely, but the truth is simpler.

Most fires in Montana are caused by HUMANS!!! Apparently, Smokey the Bear needs to do more, since people are not getting the message. As human populations grow, development expands, recreation increases, fires can start year around.



                Open burning, ditch, and debris fires


                Sky Lanterns

                Power lines/ generators




                Electric fences

                Hot equipment

                Recreational/ Ceremony

                Structure fires

                Firearms/ incendiary, tracers, exploding targets

Natural fire ignitors include lightening. Some lightning strikes ignite surface coal seams. Any sparks can quickly cause a fire. 

Once fires begin, it takes a huge manpower and fiscal effort to put them out. The damage done can last for a generation. Trees take many decades to mature. Erosion becomes an issue when the land is exposed. Habitat is lost. Air pollution is increased.

Over 2/3 of forest fires are preventable! If you are burning ditches, campfires, or controlled burns, be prepared with fire suppression gear. Fire extinguishers, buckets of water by the campfire, communication on hand, and enough manpower to keep things under control.

Fortunately, our latest flush of rain and snow is helping with this year’s drought. Sadly, if the moisture dries up, so will our forests.

Like Smokey says, “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires!”

Montana Grant