Western Idaho named highest fire start probability in the U.S.

Western Idaho named highest fire start probability in the U.S.

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by Kim Fields

Bio | Email | Follow: @KimFieldsKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 10:09 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 26 at 10:23 PM

BOISE -- National fire managers are taking notice of Western Idaho's seven day forecast that could include storms and lightning. They are predicting the area to have the highest fire probability in the nation over the next seven days, according to Boise National Forest spokesman David Olson.

"Just over a three day period we had roughly 30 new fire starts from the lightning," said Olson.

Olson says the majority of those fires have been kept from spreading. However, the largest wildfires this season have all been started by lightning, including the Beaver Creek, Elk Complex and Pony Complex fires.

There is now a new threat with new storms predicted.

"This coming week the national forecast is saying there's a higher probability for new fire starts in western Idaho," said Olson. "So we are going to get two heavy air tankers for the next week stationed right here in Boise, and we're getting a few extra crews and resources to be able to deal with potential for new starts."

Olson says lightning is responsible for starting 90 percent of the fires in the Boise National Forest, which equals to roughly 100 fires a year.

The Bureau of Land Management Boise District is prepared for storms, too. They monitor lightning strikes using computer maps, and fire lookouts are stationed on various mountaintops keeping their eyes open for strikes.

"We'll monitor the activity, monitor the weather, see what's happening," said BLM Boise District Fire Information Officer Mallory Eils."A lot of times we'll do extended staffing later into the evening so in case we do get one of those starts."

Lighting has started more fires for Boise BLM this year, striking 40 to 45 fires so far. Eils says their five-year average for lightning caused fires is about 30.

Should lightning should strike again, crews are ready to respond.

"If you can get resources on a fire quickly, it's like the basic firefighting principles, keep it small, put it out as quick as you can," said Olson.

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