HELENA — According to the United States Drought Monitor, Lewis and Clark County is more than 54 percent in an extreme drought, and having a burn permit is more crucial than ever.
Within Lewis and Clark County, having a burn permit during the open burning season, according to City of Helena Fire Marshal Lou Antonick, is crucial, especially as 95-percent of the county is considered abnormally dry according to the National Integrated Drought Information System.
"It's imperative that they have a burn permit, and they follow it to a tee," said Antonick.
Lewis and Clark County residents must purchase a burn permit. Otherwise, you can potentially be charged with negligent arson and a fine of up to 500 dollars.
And if you are burning without a permit and your burn gets out of control you could face additional changes.
"Not only can you get charged, but you are also responsible for the cost associated with response to that and damage to other people's property or public property. You are responsible for that if your fire gets away from you," said Antonick.
In Lewis and Clark County burning season typically lasts all year but burning can be closed by authorities if it is deemed to dangerous or too dry.
Open burning is not allowed in the city limits of Helena or East Helena.
Burn permits can be purchased online through the county website for $8 or renewal for $5.
"They can also stop at the City-County Building in room 113 with the treasurer, and they can get burn permits there also," said Antonick.
County residents that intend to burn need to make sure the permit is activated before starting a fire and to check weather conditions to ensure conditions are safe for burning.