CARBON COUNTY MONTANA FIRE INFORMATION

Updated July 1, 2021

Fire Danger Level:

Burn Permit System:

Fire Danger Levels

Low.  Fire starts are unlikely. Weather and fuel conditions will lead to slow fire spread, low intensity, and relatively easy control with light mop up. Controlled burns can usually be executed with reasonable safety.

Moderate.   Some wildfires may be expected. Expect moderate flame length and rate of spread. Control is usually not difficult and light to moderate mop up can be expected. Although controlled burning can be done without creating a hazard, routine caution should be taken.

High.  Wildfires are likely. Fires in heavy, continuous fuel, such as mature grassland, weed fields, and forest litter, will be difficult to control under windy conditions. Control through direct attack may be difficult but possible, and mop up will be required. Outdoor burning should be restricted to early morning and late evening hours.

Very High.  Fires start easily from all causes and may spread faster than suppression resources can travel. Flame lengths will be long with high intensity, making control very difficult. Both suppression and mop up will require an extended and very thorough effort. Outdoor burning is not recommended.

Extreme.  Fires will start and spread rapidly. Every fire start has the potential to become large. Expect extreme, erratic fire behavior. NO OUTDOOR BURNING SHOULD TAKE PLACE IN AREAS WITH EXTREME FIRE DANGER.

Fire Restrictions

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

 2. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

 3. The following acts are prohibited from 1:00 pm to 1:00 am

a. Operating any internal combustion engine directly within or above flammable wildland fuels

b. Welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame.

c. Using an explosive or explosive ammunition

A one hour foot patrol in the work area is required following cessation of all activities as identified in #3 above.

4. Operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails.

 Stage II Exemptions:

1. Persons with an approved Carbon County Fire Restriction Exemption that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act.

 2. Persons using a device fueled solely by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off.  Such devices can only be used in an area that is barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within 3 feet of the device.

 3. Operating generators with an approved spark arresting device within an enclosed vehicle or building or in an area that is barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within three feet of the generator.

 4. Emergency repair of public utilities and railroads.

5. Persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized by written posted notice.

 6. Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.

 7. All lands within an incorporated city or town boundary.

 8. Other exemptions unique to land management agencies within the County.

 9. Agricultural harvesting and off-road activities associated with agricultural operations (e.g., maintaining livestock, watering facilities, etc.).  Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to keep harvesting equipment in good working order to prevent sparks, provide spark arrestors, and to carry firefighting tools with them while harvesting and tending to other agricultural operations off-road.

 10.  Fireworks.  Although an explosive, guidance from the Montana Association of Counties (MACo) and County Attorney have indicated that the County Commissioners do not have the authority to prohibit fireworks.

1. Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire1 except when a campfire is sufficiently bordered by non-flammable material (e.g., steel, rock, cinder block or stone) in both width and height to prevent the spread of fire and escape of embers.

 2. Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

 Stage I Exemptions:

1. Persons with an approved Carbon County Fire Restriction Exemption that specifically authorizes the otherwise prohibited act.

 2. Persons using a device solely fueled by liquid petroleum or LPG fuels that can be turned on and off. Such devices can only be used in an area that is barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within 3 feet of the device.

 3. Persons conducting activities in those designated areas where the activity is specifically authorized by written posted notice.

 4. Any Federal, State, or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.

 5. All lands within an incorporated city or town boundary.

 6. Other exemptions unique to land management agencies within the County.

 Definitions:

1 Campfire.  An outside fire 48 inches or less in diameter which is used for cooking, branding, personal warmth, lighting, ceremonial, or aesthetic purposes.  Campfires are open fires, usually built on the ground, from native fuels or charcoal, including charcoal grills.

A Carbon County fire restriction exemption can be applied for under Stage I or II Restrictions. The application must be approved by the Fire Chief of the local Rural Fire District.  Complete the form below to request an exemption and have it signed by local Fire Chief. 

Burn Permit System

Open burning, defined as a fire larger than 48 inches in diameter for the purpose of burning debris or clearing fields for personal or agricultural purposes, requires a permit within Carbon County.  We have adopted the State’s burn permit system to issue and activate permits.  You must first purchase the permit and then activate it the day you intend to burn.  The burn permit system is currently closed due to high fire danger and Stage I fire restrictions.  
Permits may also be purchased in person at the following locations:
Carbon County Personal Services Building – 10 S Oakes, Red Lodge
Carbon County Administration Building – 17 11th St W, Red Lodge
Carbon County Sheriff’s Office – 102 Broadway Ave N, Red Lodge
Carbon County Extension Office – 202 State St, Joliet
Bridger Public Library – 119 W Broadway Ave, Bridger
 
Click HERE to open a Google map showing purchase locations

Burn permit system Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. This service will track the locations of all approved burns in the County and will help us more easily determine whether a smoke or fire is an true emergency.  The system has reduced the number of times fire departments are dispatch to false alarms.
  2. The burn permit services is more flexible than issuing Stage I Fire Restrictions for the entire County for an extended period.  In certain situations, we are using the system in substitution of Stage I Fire Restrictions which will allow people to burn when conditions are right to do so.
  3. The County Fire Warden may shut down the service and not allow any permits to be activated if weather conditions are not conducive to burning – reducing the risk of controlled burns escaping.
  4. The service has reduced the number of non-emergent calls into the 911 dispatch center (i.e., you no longer need to call the Sheriff’s Office to notify them you are burning).

Burn permits may be purchased at www.burnpermits.mt.gov using a credit/debit card or electronic check.   Permits may also be purchased at the following locations (normal business hours) with a personal check or cash:

Carbon County Personal Services Building – 10 S Oakes, Red Lodge
Carbon County Administration Building – 17 11th St W, Red Lodge
Carbon County Sheriff’s Office – 102 Broadway Ave N, Red Lodge
Carbon County Extension Office – 202 State St, Joliet
Bridger Public Library – 119 W Broadway Ave, Bridger

Burn permits may be activated at www.burnpermits.mt.gov or by calling 1-844-286-7968.   You will need your burn permit number and the approximate start and end times of your burn. 

A burn permit is needed year-round if you intend on conducting a slash-burning fire, land-clearing fire, debris-burning fire or any other type of open fire greater than 48 inches in diameter.

A burn permit costs $5.00 and is good for the calendar year.  Permits must be renewed annually after the 1st of the year.  You may burn multiple times and at multiple locations under the same permit.

Yes.  Just be sure to include the address or latitude/longitude of additional burn locations when purchasing the permit. 

  • * Fires shall not be ignited when weather, wind, and other conditions make it hazardous to do so.
  • * You must have enough water, hand tools/equipment, and people to keep your fire under control.
  • * If you do not activate your permit before burning, the local fire department may be dispatched to your fire, even though it is under control, and you may be cited.
  • * Burn permit must be accessible at the burn location
  • * Someone must remain with the fire until it is completely out (no smoke or hot embers present)
  • Natural vegetation is the ONLY thing that your burn permit allows you to burn.
  • You are not allowed to burn prohibited materials as outline in the Montana DEQ air quality regulations.  This includes, but is not limited to garbage, buildings, asphalt shingles, campers, railroad ties, plastic products, paper products, cardboard, manure and dead animals.

Yes, fires measuring less than 48 inches in diameter that are surrounded by nonflammable area or structure (i.e., fire ring) are allowed without a burn permit. This assumes no county-wide fire restrictions are in place.

Yes, the incorporated communities of Bearcreek, Bridger, Joliet, Fromberg, and Red Lodge have adopted the County Burn Permit System.  Residents in those communities can obtain and activate their permit at www.burnpermits.mt.gov.

Yes, visit www.burnpermits.mt.gov , select Carbon County and then click on “View Current burn activity” to display a map with active permits.