Even if you’re a seasonal North Fork resident, it pays for you to take some time out of your vacation to protect your property from wildfires.
North Fork Fire Chief Lynn P. Ogle (e-mail) has the following tips:
- The best way to dispose of slash and debris that is a fire hazard is by safe burning. From May 1 through June 30, before the woods dry out, a burn permit is required. To obtain a permit, call the Interagency Burning Permit Center at (406) 752-7376 or (800) 545-7376. You may also apply for a permit on line. You will need a legal description of your property, which can be ascertained using an official Flathead National Forest map. The center’s Web site also lists open and closed burning periods for the year, and fire-safety tips.
- Always use care when burning. You may not burn garbage, man-made wood products, plastic, wire or anything like furniture, etc.
- Even with a burn permit, you must call the Air Quality Hotline at (406) 751-8144 to determine whether burning is allowed that day.
- Avoid smoky fires that will violate your neighbors’ privacy and enjoyment of the North Fork.
- If you have a fire ring, make sure it’s clean and safe. Be sure the pit is away from overhanging limbs and other flammables, and keep water and firefighting tools close at hand.
- If your fire gets out of control, send someone for help and call the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office at (406) 758-5610.
- There are several North Forkers who have firefighting equipment and training. They are Duke Hoiland (Trail Creek Road); Lynn Ogle and Larry Wilson (just south of Trail Creek Road east of the North Fork Road); Jerry Wernick (driveway across from Red Meadow Creek Road); Frank Vitale (Red Meadow Creek Road); John Frederick and Oliver Meister (North Fork Hostel in Polebridge).
- It is not a crime to ask for help in putting out an out-of-control fire. However, you are responsible for damage done to adjacent property by a fire you started.