Doubling the fleet; Boise National Forest prepares for fire starts

Credit: Zach Stotland/ KTVB

Doubling the fleet; Boise National Forest prepares for fire starts

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by Andrea Lutz

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBandrealutz

KTVB.COM

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 9:20 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 23 at 11:16 AM

BOISE – Boise National Weather Service forecasters are predicting lightning storms for later this week, starting Tuesday evening.

Those with the Boise National Forest have increased crews to roughly 300 firefighters, which are stationed around the valley waiting for Tuesday’s storm to bring new fire starts.

Crews from California, Colorado, Utah and Nevada as well as other neighboring states are in Garden Valley, Lowman, Cascade, Idaho City as well as Boise.

“We do the best that we can to prepare for these events. Of course you are always a little nervous about how big of an event is it going to be,” said Boise National Forest Fire Chief, Bob Shindelar.

He says it’s a sure sign of fire season when extra personnel are working in the extended fire dispatch center, which is already up and running.

In addition,heavy air support in the form of C-130 cargo planes is also in Boise responding to fires.

Mission commander and pilot for the Wyoming Air National Guard Todd Davies is in charge of operations and maintenance for the C-130s. They have more than a dozen service men and woman working on the military cargo planes that have been converted for firefighting operations.

“We arrived in Boise on Saturday,” he said, and by 3:00 in the afternoon that day, they were already flying missions.

The C-130’s are stationed in Boise at the National Interagency Fire Center and virtually always flying in and out. Once a plane comes in, its fueled up and equipped with 3,000 gallons of fire retardant and then it’s sent on its way to another fire mission.

“We basically are there to help and the good thing is we can see immediate gratification to what we just did or helped do or how we helped the firefighters on the ground,” said Davis.

The soldiers were working the Lodge Pole fire but Monday received a launch call to help fight a sudden fire burning near Redfish Lake.

“We have made preparations on the Boise National Forest,” said Shindelar.

So far this summer, crews have been fighting three major fires on Boise forest lands, according to Shindelar and with conditions very dry, he believes things are about the heat up.

“We have nearly doubled our initial attack capability to deal with the potential threat of this lightning storm coming through,” said Shindelar.

The Air National Guard men and women who work on those C-130s are booked for the summer, and just like the firefighters working on the ground, they will log long days and will be released when their services are no longer needed.

“So we are ensuring that we are doing everything we can to keep the fire small before they become a large problem fire that could become a threat,” said Shindelar.

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