The danger of wildfires has changed camping – no sitting around campfires with roasted marshmallows this August.

Drier, warmer weather has increased the length of wildfire season across the state of Montana, and across many other states.

Some general steps to avoid problems when you go outdoors:

  • know your limits
  • don’t try to do too much
  • know where you’re going and what you might encounter there
  • be aware of the environment and the weather conditions

Just remember to do a little preparation before you go and be sensible while you’re out there.

About Wildfires

Most wildfires are caused by people. People in fire-prone regions should plan ahead and prepare to evacuate with little notice.

Here are some hints on how to prevent wildfires and what to do if you see one.

If you notice out-of-control fire: contact 911, local fire department, or the park service.

Campfire: Don’t leave a campfire unattended. Completely extinguish the fire before leaving the campsite.

When camping: take care when using stoves and heaters. Avoid spilling flammable liquids and store fuel away from appliances.

Cigarettes: never discard cigarettes, matches, or any smoking materials from moving vehicles. Remember to extinguish cigarettes carefully before disposing of them.

Yard waste: follow local directives when burning it. Avoid backyard burning in windy conditions. Remove all flammables from the yard when burning.

Unhealthy air because of smoke

The month of August in the Northwest has previously meant campfires, visits to bright lakes warmed by the summer sun, and last-chance hikes before school starts.

But for last summers, hot weather with little rain has made August synonymous with burn bans, wildfires, and skies filled with smoke. This has caused families and hikers to rethink all the outdoor activities.

Air might be harmful because of smoke in the area. Some areas had air quality levels so low, that air is either unhealthy for sensitive groups or unhealthy for everyone.

Is it going to be risky to go outdoors? You need to take it seriously, but you still want to function at the same time. As a kid, you just went out and played, and roasted marshmallows on a campfire. Not anymore.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

And now in August wildfire in Montana’s Glacier National Park has burned within a half-mile of the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, and forced more evacuations. Part of the 50-mile road is closed.

Protecting the highway through the park is officials’ priority, with firefighters installing hoses and sprinklers to prevent it from spreading there, The Missoulian newspaper just reported.

If the fire spreads, damage could lead rock and trees to fall for years.

Officials evacuated the Fish Creek Campground, and other campgrounds, the historic Lake McDonald Lodge and private cabins along Going-to-the-Sun Road are already under evacuation orders.


Backpacker still has to have a backup plan and a good map to explore safe routes – and everyone has to be concerned about fire safety.