Fire prevention is key to minimizing wildfires in eastern Idaho. The count for wildfires this year is up to 79, which is average according to the Bureau of Land Management’s fire prevention and information officer Kelsey Griffee.
“What we are finding is an increase in abandoned campfires,” Griffee said, “People are not extinguishing their fires until they are cold to the touch.”
Campfire coals can stay hot for days when they are buried under ash. These coals can reignite and catch dry brush on fire quickly.
She said the two most common wildfire causes are dragging chains from cars, and campfires that are not cold to the touch.
“We are just asking that people do as Smoky (Bear) says and drown, stir, and repeat until it is dead out and cold to the touch,” Griffee said.
While the number of fires is around the yearly average, the acres burned is less than the average. So far, 12,479 acres have burned this year, which is well below the average number of 60-100,000 acres that is typical for this time.
“We are catching these fires quite small and quickly,” Griffee said, “That is in part to our great federal firefighters and also our cooperators we work with very closely and oftentimes are first on scene.”
The lower numbers may be due to a number of prescribed fires the BLM does annually to minimize potential fires from getting out of control.
“We live in an area that is supposed to have fire. A lot of our plants and animals are adapted to fire,” Griffee said, “Along with that, it’s also a great mitigation tool to prevent large fires.”
While fires are normal for the Idaho landscape, it is important for people to do their part in preventing wildfires from starting at all.