With temperatures in the 90's and thunderstorms on the way in the next week, Missoula Rural Fire crews are preparing for fire season in earnest.

Deputy Chief Fire Marshall Chris Newman said on Tuesday, that fine fuels like grasses and weeds are drying out rapidly, setting the stage for a fast moving fire.

"Both the short and long term forecasts are not favorable, as far as fire conditions go," Newman said. "The biggest thing that I would like to get out to folks in Missoula County and western Montana is just to be careful. Things are really starting to burn, and burn hot, even up in some of the higher elevations."

Newman acknowledged that shooting off fireworks is legal in the county, but he asked that residents be mindful of safety, both for themselves and for area firefighters, as well.

"Know where you're lighting off fireworks and where they may end up," he said. "The bottle rockets, the Roman candles, basically anything that's going to be launched out of sight, there's just not a whole lot of control over that stuff. It's only going to take one shot for things to get out of control and we're going to have a pretty good fire on our hands. It's not only a danger to property, but to the citizens in that area and to firefighters who may have to respond to that fire."

Newman said one of the most frustrating aspects of summer is campers who don't properly put out their campfires.

"Even though open burning ends on June 30th, campfires are still legal," Newman said. "Three feet in diameter is the largest you're allowed to have. We see it multiple times every year. People think the campfire's out and it could literally be two or three days later and next thing you know we have a ripping wildland fire. Make sure that it's literally cold to the touch, pour water on it, mix it around. If you can't feel any heat, mix it up some more, put more water on it to make sure that it's cold and dead out."

The forecast for the 4th of July weekend includes a chance of thunderstorms, with highs in the 70's to low 80's.

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