NIFC: Wildfire season activity, length 'is not normal'

It will likely be weeks before many of the fires can be extinguished.

BOISE - There are nearly 80 active wildfires burning from Oregon to Colorado; those include a half dozen here in Idaho and 21 in Montana. And there's more than 27,000 people working to fight those fires.

“It is not normal for us to have this much fire on the landscape, this late in the year with no relief in sight,” Jessica Gardetto with the National Interagency Fire Center said.

It’s relief to firefighters that comes in the form of rain or snow.

“We are hoping that later in this month when the days become shorter, relative humidity comes up at night, firefighters will be able to get a handle on some of these larger fires,” Gardetto said.

Forest fires that are starting to stretch resources thin, as many firefighters head back to school.

“When it's a long fire season, college students are going back to school and a lot of our firefighters are college students,” Gardetto said.

Meaning what resources NIFC does have are going to be based on priority.

“Are people's lives threatened? Is property threatened? Is infrastructure threatened? Those are the fires that are going to get the most resources,” Gardetto said.

So some fires, like the 70,000 Highline Fire burning in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness are for the most part, being left to burn.

“They don't have active suppression going on, on that fire because active suppression is needed in so many other locations,” Gardetto said.

The National Guard and active military personnel are being activated in Oregon, Washington, and Montana to help in the relief efforts.

So far this year, fires have scorched nearly 8 million acres.

“The severity of this fire season seems even more extreme because a lot of these large fires are burning near homes and communities. A lot of people are evacuated; homes have burned and that makes this fire season seem like it’s just that much more extreme,” Gardetto said.

A wildfire season that, as of now, may have a couple more weeks.

“What we hope for every year, is what they call, a season-ending weather event. So significant amount rains and in some cases even snow, but that's not predicted for this year, at least not in the next two weeks,” Gardetto said.

Gardetto added this serves as a good reminder that we’re still in fire season; it’s still very dry out and people need to be firewise when venturing out anywhere.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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