“Extreme” Fire Danger in Southern Idaho

As we turned the page into August this week, the Bureau of Land Management has increased the fire danger rating in the Boise District in Southwest Idaho and Twin Falls District in Southern Idaho to “Extreme.” Fire danger in the Idaho Falls BLM District is listed as “High.”

That means all of the tall grass and brush that grew super high during the prolonged, wet spring we had in April, May and June has dried out with the hot temperatures in July, and now that heavy vegetation is very dry and susceptible to any kind of ignition, BLM officials say.

About 80 percent of Idaho’s wildfires are started by humans. Please be careful! (photo courtesy BLM)

“The extreme rating means that our range fuels are very receptive to any kind of flames and ignition,” said Jared Jablonski, fire education and mitigation specialist for the BLM Boise District. “If you do start a fire on rangelands, it’s going to get up and move quickly.”

So the message right now is to be extremely careful! If you make a campfire when you’re out camping, make sure it’s 100 percent dead-out before you go to bed or when you leave camp. Douse the fire multiple times with water, stir it around to drown hot coals, and make sure it’s cold to the touch.

Illustration courtesy KTVZ-TV in Bend, Oregon

Most of Idaho’s national forests have yet to enact any fire restrictions as yet this summer with the exception of the Salmon-Challis National Forest, which enacted Stage 1 fire restrictions on July 26. The BLM has yet to enact Stage 1 fire restrictions, but they’re right on the cusp of enacting them, Jablonski said.

Stage 1 fire restrictions mean that no campfires are allowed except in developed campgrounds with established campfire pits. Fires are allowed on portable propane stoves and also in free-standing fire pans.

How to be careful with fire?

See the Fire Prevention page from the Idaho Department of Lands with details about how to prevent wildfires related to campfires, vehicles, equipment and more.

Fire prevention tips from the BLM:

  • Make sure your trailer is properly attached to your vehicle and trailer chains are not dragging
  • Make sure your trailer tires are properly inflated
  • Don’t park or drive on tall, dry grass with your vehicle, ATVs or UTVs.
  • Avoid target shooting on hot, dry, windy days
  • Don’t use certain types of ammunition, like incendiary or tracing ammunition.
  • Don’t use anything made to explode
  • No fireworks allowed on public lands.
  • Don’t leave a campfire unattended
Courtesy U.S. Forest Service and KTVB-TV

There are currently more than six wildfires burning in Idaho at the present time, including the Hatwai Fire near Lewiston and the Moose fire near North Fork and Salmon. The Moose fire is the largest wildfire burning in Idaho currently, charring more than 56,000 acres. The fire was human-caused, according to the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The good news is that it’s 25 percent contained … the highest percentage reported since the blaze started in late July.

FYI – Northern Idaho had an even longer moist spring and early summer, so the fire danger in Northern Idaho BLM lands is currently listed as “low.”