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Open Burning Information

Open Burning Frequently Asked Questions

Open Burning Seasons Cheat Sheet

Why Can't I Burn?


Fall Burning Season: September 1 – November 30


During fall burning season all burners must:

  • Obtain a permit from their county fire control authority
  • Check this website or call the Ventilation Hotline at 800-225-6779 for any restrictions the day of the burn
  • If there are no restrictions be aware of local conditions and burn smart


Current Burning Restrictions:

 The following county restrictions are in place:


November 26-27, 2015

Dispersion and Air Quality Forecast

Dispersion is expected to be poor in western Montana. Parts of southwest Montana can expect to see moderate dispersion during the afternoon. Dispersion is expected to be good in eastern Montana. Air quality is expected to range from MODERATE to UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS in western Montana due to strong inversions. Some areas may see air quality reach UNHEALTHY levels. Air quality is expected to be GOOD in eastern Montana.


A stable atmosphere will bring light winds, generally clear skies, and little to no precipitation on Thursday and Friday. This combined with arctic temperatures across the area will lead to strong inversions in many western valleys. Some areas may see these inversions linger through the weekend. The cold temperatures will increase the use of wood stoves in many valleys, which will lead to increased particulate concentrations for many areas.  Parts of northwest Montana, Butte, and the Bitterroot Valley are likely to see the worst impacts. Smoke from burns during this period will have a hard time lifting out of the valleys.There may be some relief in parts of southwest and central Montana over the weekend when a disturbance moves through the eastern half of the state.

Open Burning Restrictions

Burning is prohibited in Broadwater, Deer Lodge, Granite, Jefferson, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Mineral, Powell, Ravalli, Sanders, and Silver Bow Counties. Burning is also restricted to the hours of 12pm to 4pm in Beaverhead, Gallatin, and Madison Counties. Dispersion conditions in the Libby Impact Zone, Flathead, and Missoula Counties are expected to poor. Dispersion in Cascade County is expected to be good – however – burning within these counties is at the discretion of the county air quality program. The contact information for these counties is provided below.

All burners should wait until morning inversions lift before igniting any burns.


County Air Quality Open Burning Programs

Some counties may have air quality related open burning programs that are approved by the Board of Environmental Review.  Please refer to these counties for air quality related open burning requirements:

Missoula County - 406-258-4755
     Missoula County Open Burning Hotline:  406-258-4900
     Northern Missoula County Open Burning Hotline:  406-677-2899

Flathead County  – 406-751-8144

Yellowstone County – 406-256-6841

Cascade County – 406-454-6800

Lincoln County – 406-283-2444
     Lincoln County Air Quality Hotline:  406-293-5644


Winter Burning Information:

 Between December 1 and February 28, the state is divided into two separate zones:

Western Montana Zone:
Lincoln, Flathead, Sanders, Lake, Mineral, Missoula, Powell, Lewis and Clark, Ravalli, Granite, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Jefferson, Broadwater, Beaverhead, Madison, Gallatin, Park (south of I-90)

I’m in the western zone. What do I do?
Burner is required to first submit a written request to the Department. Burning is always encouraged before December 1 or after February 28. Only essential winter burning will be considered. To receive the written request form, please call 406-444-3490. Burners may only burn during the times specified by the Department.

Why can't I burn?

Eastern Montana Zone:
Glacier, Pondera, Teton, Cascade, Meagher, Wheatland, Park (north of I-90), Toole, Liberty, Hill, Choteau, Blaine, Judith Basin, Fergus, Sweet Grass, Stillwater, Carbon, Golden Valley, Big Horn, Yellowstone, Musselshell, Petroleum, Phillips, Valley, Garfield, Treasure, Rosebud, Powder River, Carter, Custer, Fallon, Prairie, Wibaux, Dawson, McCone, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Daniels

I’m in the eastern zone. What do I do?
Burner is only required to notify the Department prior to ignition. To notify the Department, and to check for any restrictions, call 406-444-3490.


If you have submitted a written request and received permission with a burner identification number, please adhere to the instructions below. The Department will be working hard all winter to assess dispersion conditions and expected air quality in your area, and identify a timeframe that will minimize the impacts of your proposed burns to air quality. 

  1. Please check this website often. It will be updated Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, by 5:00 pm. Burning “windows of opportunity” are infrequent and forecasts are subject to change.
  2. Determine if your assigned wintertime burn identification number is listed as having a possible “window of opportunity” on a given day. If so, call the Department's Open Burning Program Permitter Doug Kuenzli at 444-4267 at least 24 hours prior to the proposed date to create a burn plan. Please only call between 8:00 am-4:00 pm.
  3. Notify local fire control authorities prior to igniting your burn.
  4. At the completion of your burn, call the meteorologist to note the accomplishment achieved and indicate whether any future service will be required.

Thank you for working with the Air Resources Management Bureau to accomplish your burn.  



Additional Links

Weather, Air Quality, and Open Burning Brochure

Near real time air quality monitoring information:

Minor Open Burning Requirements Flyer:

State Air Quality Open Burning Permits Webpage:

Open Burning Rules:

Visibility Ranges and Health Effects Categories:

Winter Air Quality Updates:

Recommendations for safely and effectively using wood burning devices:

Wildfire Smoke:

State Issued Major Open Burning Permits: