FIRE STATION 1

Bozeman Fire Station 1, at the intersection of Rouse Avenue and Mendenhall Street, is pictured on July 28.

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Bozeman lifted its ban on outdoor burning Thursday, more than a month after restrictions went into place in response to hot and dry conditions.

Bozeman Fire Chief Josh Waldo lifted the ban effective Thursday, citing recent rainfall as a factor in his decision. Recreational fires, outdoor fire pits and charcoal grills are now allowed within city limits.

Fireworks are prohibited in the city except for July 4 and New Year’s.

The Bozeman Fire Department has been consistently evaluating conditions and talking to other fire officials in the county, Deputy Chief Mike Maltaverne said.

The rainfall, in addition to generally cooler temperatures and more available firefighting resources than earlier in the summer all played into the decision, Maltaverne said.

“We look at all those factors and it all gets wrapped up into one decision, and so we feel comfortable,” he said.

The region saw several consecutive days with rainfall last week.

So far this month, 1.88 inches of rainfall have been recorded at Bozeman International Airport, meteorologist Paul Nutter said, more than an inch more than the norm for this point in August, which is 0.76 inches.

The city issued its burn ban on July 21, as hot temperatures and dry conditions increased the risk for devastating wildfires.

The ban was met with general acceptance from residents, Maltaverne said. Anecdotally, Maltaverne said it seemed the department responded to significantly fewer human-caused fires than in a normal summer.

“That’s part of living out West, we live in western state that deals with wildfires across the state every summer, so I think for the most part the citizens get it,” Maltaverne said.

Maltaverne stressed that there is still a lot of fire season left and residents should still be careful and aware of conditions.

“If you’re going to have a fire in the backyard or do anything outdoors, be vigilant, continue to understand where you are and whose jurisdiction you’re in and respect those restrictions,” Maltaverne said.

Stage two drought restrictions remain in place in Bozeman. The restrictions call for a 20% reduction in water use, and prohibit outdoor watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The drought stage also restricts lawn watering to two days a week and come with water surcharges.

Fire restrictions are still in place in other jurisdictions in the region, but the agenda for the Gallatin County Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday includes an item to rescind the county’s burn ban.

Commissioner Zach Brown said Thursday that Patrick Lonergan, the county’s emergency management chief, shared with the commissioners earlier in the week that the metrics they looked to when implementing the ban in July were showing a more positive direction.

The commissioners decided it was time to reevaluate the burn ban, Brown said.

“Based on data presented to us earlier this week, it does look like we will be in a position to lift it with confidence that that’s a responsible decision,” said Brown, who also noted that things could change between now and Tuesday.

This story has been updated to reflect the rainfall recorded to date this month at Bozeman International Airport is 1.88 inches. Accuweather reports 3.21 inches of rainfall have been recorded so far this month at Montana State University's campus. 

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Nora Shelly can be reached at nshelly@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2607.

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