BLM puts fire restrictions on North Hills near Helena

(BUTTE, Mont.) – With record-breaking heat and dry fuels conditions keeping firefighters nervously eyeing the horizon for smoke plumes, the North Hills near Helena are particularly vulnerable to the smallest spark. The area is still reeling from the 2019 fire which ripped through 5,000 acres—a fire that was caused by an individual illegally shooting exploding targets.

With that in mind, the Bureau of Land Management is putting fire restrictions in place on BLM-administered lands within the North Hills. The restrictions began at 12:01 a.m. today.

The following activities are prohibited under the Fire Prevention Order signed by Butte Field Manager Lindsey Babcock this week:

* Building maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire.

* Smoking, except while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

* Operating motorized vehicles.

Flames and smoke have already been reported in the North Hills at the start of this year’s wildfire season.

“Our fire protection partners have already responded to over a dozen human-caused wildfires in the North Hills this year,” Babcock said. “With fuel conditions rapidly changing, we can’t afford to see a fire explode like the Deep Creek fire near Townsend did earlier this week. These fire restrictions will protect both our natural resources and our neighbors.”

As a reminder, she added, the following activities are prohibited on all BLM-managed lands year-round:

* Discharging, using, or possessing any combustible or explosive composition or any substance or combination of substances or article prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration, or detonation, including but not limited to, any pyrotechnics, fireworks, or exploding targets;

* Discarding any item that is smoldering or has open flame attached to it, including, but not limited to, smoking materials, cigarettes, luminaries, wish lanterns, or any unmanned balloons using fire underneath for propulsion;

* Burning or causing to burn any wire, magnesium, or any other hazardous materials; and

* Operating any internal combustion engine without a properly installed spark arrester as

described in Title 43, CFR § 8343.1.

The North Hills order specifically closes Township 12 North, Range 2 West, Sections 19 and 30; and Township 12 North, Range 3 West, Sections 13, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 34, & 35; and the BLM Access Road leading north into the area from Snowdrift Road in Township 11 North, Range 3 West, Section 3.

For more information, call the Butte Field Office at (406) 533-7600.

This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

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Bureau of Land Management


Butte Field Office


David Abrams