Fire concerns heightened during solar eclipse

Fire managers are worried about the hot, dry conditions on Aug. 21.

BOISE - The first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years, which crosses 14 U.S. states including Idaho, is a month away from today. Some say it could be the largest tourist attraction in Idaho history. However, the timing, right in the heat of fire season, has fire managers very concerned.

“The more people on the ground and the more folks out there on public lands, the higher likelihood there is of a fire starting,” Jared Jablonski with the Bureau of Land Management said.

Jablonski says the fact that the southwestern part of the state has only seen traces of precipitation this month only adds to that risk.

“The vegetation out there is extremely dry. We haven't had a lot of moisture and the eclipse is falling right in the prime, our prime fire season,” Jablonski said.

That’s why coming August 21st, you can expect to see a lot of fire crews out looking for danger zones.

“The BLM will have a presence on the ground during the eclipse in these areas where there's going to be a lot of people viewing the prime spots for the eclipse, and so we'll be handing out brochures, flyers, answering questions, doing what we can on the ground to make sure people are safe out there,” Jablonski said.

“We are planning ahead of time for all hands on deck. People to be prepared, have our folks out in the woods, on the ground, information centers set up, and then additional information,” Venetia Gempler with the Boise National Forest said.

You can do your part too; make sure if you’re pulling a trailer your chains are secure and not dragging. Also, be aware whenever pulling off to the side of the highway.

“It doesn't take much for that grass, that cheatgrass, or any kind of grass to really, just one little spark and you could have a wildfire on your hands,” Jablonski said.

Jablonski says with the number of people projected to come here for the eclipse, many, if not all, the campsites have already been reserved. He expects there to be a lot of dispersed camping on public lands and in the forests.

“Use a fire ring if possible and of course never leave your fire unattended, and also when you leave make sure that you pour water on it, stir it in, cold to the touch,” Jablonski said.

Currently, there are no fire restrictions in place, but those can change on a daily basis, which is why Gempler says you need to do your research.

“They should know before they go. Where are they going? Are there facilities? What kind of resources do we have on the forest?” Gempler said.

The Boise National Forest will also have many areas closed for the Pioneer Fire recovery and for salmon migration up in the Bear Valley area.

“Be very cautious, we're going to have some closures in there,” Gempler said.

Fire managers recommend that if you do plan to venture out into Idaho’s public lands or forests that you do bring a map because many areas don’t have cell coverage.

More information on fire restrictions in the Boise National Forest can be found here.

More information on fire restrictions on BLM land can be found here.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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