July 8, 2019
Writer: Jaime Strobel
Idaho had a small increase of fire activity last weekend, due to weather and human recreation, Carrie Bilbao, public affairs specialist for the Bureau Land Management (BLM) at the National Interagency Fire Center said. However, the fire activity has been less this year than in past years, because of weather and fuel conditions.
Idaho has had less wind and a cooler spring which has prevented fires from occurring. Once weather warms up and grass dries out, there is expected to be more fires.
The National Interagency Fire Center looks at the preparedness levels of each state. Idaho’s preparedness level is two, and they are seeing this is about the same level throughout the Great Basin.
“At preparedness level two that means our fires are being handled locally and with local resources, so they’re not calling on the geographical area to look for resources for them,” she said.
Alaska is at a preparedness level five which means they have a lot of fire activity, and they are in critical condition.
The BLM cautions people to be aware of their surroundings. It’s not just fireworks people should be mindful of but camping and driving also.
Bilbao encourages people to never let a campfire be unattended and that it gets put out completely when finished.
“Just be aware that…small sparks can start large fires,” she said.
People should also be aware of restrictions because they’re there for everyone’s safety.
The biggest thing she wants people to know about fire season nationally is that although fire activity is below average now, it can happen quickly and people can’t be complacent.
“Human caused fires are a big issue and a big problem nationally and most of our fires are human caused,” she said.
In Idaho around 60% of fires are human caused, Kelsey Griffee, fire information officer for the BLM said. They work to get information about fire prevention out to different resources, such as the radio and internet so people can be informed.
Griffee said there have been 15 fires already this year in Eastern Idaho. There were seven human caused and eight lightning caused fires.
"What I just ask if for everyone to be conscious when they're out recreating. Be aware that their campfire can cause a fire. And to be really careful while target shooting. Last year target shooting became our number 1 human cause in Idaho on BLM lands."
Not only should people educate themselves on fire prevention, but they should learn how to be safe when fires occur.
It’s a great time for people to be asking questions, such as what can we do to protect our homes and get out if needed, she said.