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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:


October 9, 2015

Dispersion and Air Quality Forecast

Dispersion is expected to be poor in the morning, improving to good in the afternoon in western Montana. Dispersion is expected to be good in eastern Montana. Air quality in northwest Montana may reach UNHEALTHY levels due to nearby fire activity. Other areas of western Montana may see air quality reach UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS due to overnight inversions and wood stove smoke but should clear by early afternoon. Air quality in eastern Montana is expected to be GOOD.


A ridge of high pressure will be over the state on Friday morning, leading to moderately strong overnight inversions in many western valleys. After the inversions lift, winds will be increasing throughout the day as a frontal passage approaches from the west. This front is not expected to reach the area until Saturday evening, but the increasing winds will help create good dispersion conditions beginning in the early afternoon. No precipitation is expected on Friday, so the increasing winds may cause an increase in fire activity in northwest Montana and Idaho, leading to additional smoke impacts in that region. Winds will be from the west southwest and temperatures will be in the upper 70s Friday afternoon.

Open Burning Restrictions

Open burning is restricted in Lincoln and Sanders counties due to elevated particulate concentrations. Open burning is restricted before 12pm in Mineral, Lake, Ravalli, Granite, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Beaverhead, Madison, Powell, Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, Jefferson, Gallatin and Park (south of I-90) counties. Dispersion conditions in the Libby Impact Zone, Cascade, Flathead, and Missoula counties are expected to be poor, improving to good, on Friday – 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: