The Yellowstone County Board of County Commissioners issued a Stage II Fire restriction, effective today (6/23) until further notice, citing "VERY HIGH to EXTREME" fire danger due to hot, dry, windy conditions in Yellowstone County. The county has been under Stage I restrictions since June 15th.

The resolution is explicitly clear that the ignition of any open fire is not permitted, including your backyard firepit and fireworks. Operating combustion-powered equipment (such as chainsaws) and blasting or welding must be done between 1 am and 1 pm. Motorized vehicles are barred from operating off designated roads and trails and smoking is only permitted at a developed recreation site or "while stopped in an area with at least three feet in diameter that is barren or clean of all flammable materials."

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Discharging fireworks was already illegal in Billings city limits.

Not that many people seem to respect the law, but fireworks have always been illegal inside Billings city limits. They are now banned county-wide. That means driving somewhere out in the country to light off pyrotechnics is definitely a big no-no.

I confess that fireworks are traditionally a large part of my family's 4th of July fun. Our neighborhood in Laurel usually sounds like a war zone for at least a week, and my teenage kid was looking forward to blowing his entire paycheck on fireworks this year. Now, not so much.

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Will it kind of suck that you can't light off fireworks this year? In my opinion, yes. I love them. I also completely understand the extreme fire danger and think the decision to implement Stage II Fire Restrictions is warranted. Early risers, pet lovers, and others will appreciate quieter nights for the next ten days too.

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