The Montana State Forest Fire Season is from May 1st through September 30th each year. During this period, permits are required for open debris burning. ("Wildfire Season" Definition: 76-13-102 MCA, State Statute 76-13-121 MCA). To satisfy this requirement, burn permits are issued from May 1 to June 30. 

Only two types of debris burning are allowed in Montana:

  • Agricultural debris. This debris is created from farming, ranching, and gardening. 
  • Wildland debris. This debris is created in two ways.

Natural accumulations of needles, grasses, leaves, shrubs, limbs, and trees. Unnatural accumulations of fuel resulting from management activities such as land clearing or timber harvesting.



Materials that are prohibited to burn include business waste, treated or painted wood or lumber, tar paper, tires, insulated wire, any salvage, oil products, styrofoam or plastics, food wastes, animal parts or waste, hazardous waste, noxious waste, and any man-made material. Trade Waste permits may be issued for wood or wood by-product trade wastes generated by any business, industry trade, or demolition project. Trade waste permits may be obtained by calling your local city-county health department. For more information, contact the appropriate agency:

Remember, you are responsible for any and all suppression costs if your fire escapes your control! (State Statute 50-63-103 MCA)



Keep piles clean and free of dirt. Use brush blades on dozers when piling slash. When possible, use an excavator to pile.

Build small piles of yard debris so the fire will be hot, yet manageable. Wet or dirt-covered materials will cause fires to smolder and emit more smoke. Build debris piles in openings away from bodies of water, structures, or overhead branches and wires.

Piles can be covered with plastic or waterproof paper and anchored with additional slash. This practice will allow piles to be burned during periods of time when adjacent fuels are too wet to burn and control is not a problem or concern; remember to remove the plastic before igniting the piles.

Create a control line by scraping away debris and any other burnable materials several feet around the piles to be burned. The result should be bare soil around each pile. You may also use a hose to wet down the area around the pile.

Keep plenty of water and sufficient personnel, tools, and equipment ready in case of unexpected changes in fire behavior.

Light the fire only when you have an update on safe weather and safe burning conditions. (e.g. winds calm, weather cool)

When possible, make plans to re-pile debris as material is consumed. This will allow the fire to burn out as quickly as possible.

Stay with your fire. Be prepared to put your fire out if it becomes difficult to manage.

If you intend to burn, have in place:

  • A current weather forecast for your local area 
  • Water source (such as a hose, buckets, pond or lake)
  • Fire tools or equipment depending on the size of your burn
  • Enough help to respond in the event that fire behavior increases.



Do not burn when high or erratic winds are forecast or dry conditions prevail. Do not attempt to bury any burning material as fire can and will burn underground, sometimes for several months!



If burn barrels are going to be used we request that you only burn agricultural or wildland debris. Burn barrels should not be used to burn garbage.