The cool wet summer is coming to a close with a dramatic rise in temperatures next week that fire officials will be watching carefully.

Fire Prevention Specialist with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Jordan Koppen said the area has been fortunate so far not have had any major fires.

“We repeat the message every week, to please be careful with ignition sources,” said Koppen. “If we do have lightning storms coming in, you can bet our firefighters with all the agencies in western Montana will be busy with these lightning strikes from the storm cells.”

Koppen said even though there has been sufficient moisture in recent weeks, the fine fuels will dry out rapidly.

“All it takes is three dry days to really cure all that vegetation,” he said. “If you take a look at Mt. Sentinel right now there may be some green, but once we get into July things cure and dry out and that golden color means it’s drying out, so we need to be extremely cautious and careful with ignition sources out there.”

KGVO News spoke with Koppen as he was in Seeley Lake following the official dedication of a portion of Highway 83 to fallen firefighter Trenton Johnson of Missoula who was killed while fighting the Florence Fire in 2017. Koppen said all wildland firefighters share a bond of brotherhood.

“The firefighting community is a strong unit,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing a DNRC uniform, a Forest Service uniform or a private firm like the Grayback crew we all work together. We all do the same job and we all care deeply about each other. I think that’s a really important thing to stress that throughout the firefighting community, we’re all going to be there for each other.”