Citing rising temperatures and drying conditions, the Missoula County Fire Protection Association this week raised the fire danger within the county to moderate.

Moderate conditions enable fires to easily start in drying grasslands, which hold the potential for rapid spread. Fires within the forest are also a threat, though spread would be slower under current conditions.

All outdoor burning in Missoula County will end on July 1.

“Outdoor burning seasons have been open for four months, with pockets of good burning weather throughout,” said Ashleigh Burwick, the Missoula unit fire management officer with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. “Spring burning should be completed by now.”

Burwick said that three of every four wildfires in Missoula County are typically human caused. Outdoor burning and abandoned campfires are the leading source for human-caused fires.

Wet spring weather in late May and early June prompted lush vegetation growth. But as the precipitation fades, that vegetation has begun to dry.

“With weather trending hotter and drier, plentiful grasses beginning to dry out and many firefighter resources helping neighboring regions, it is time to restrict the risk of human caused starts due to open burning and focus available resources on fire season readiness.”