BOISE, Idaho — The Forest Service is urging the public to be extremely careful when camping, hiking or taking a motorized trip on public lands.
Hot weather and dry fuel conditions in Idaho's backcountry has prompted the Central Idaho Dispatch Zone to move the fire danger to "very high."
The Central Idaho Dispatch Zone includes much of the Salmon-Challis National Forest.
When the fire danger gets this high it means that fires can start easily and spread rapidly. There is a good chance that small fires can quickly become large ones and exhibit extreme fire intensity right after ignition. These fires can be difficult to control and will often become much larger and longer-lasting fires.
Forest officials are asking the public to be extremely careful when camping and to remember to properly maintain and extinguish all campfires.
Here are some reminders for staying safe:
• Never leave a campfire unattended. Always add water, stir it, and make sure all embers are out. If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave!
• Always use a campfire ring or fire pan when building a campfire.
• Recreational shooting: Never shoot into dry vegetation and always make sure you're shooting in a safe location. Shooting of exploding targets is not allowed on National Forest System lands in the Intermountain Region.
• Refrain from smoking in wooded, grassy, or brushy areas. Make sure your cigarette is fully extinguished before leaving the area.
• Fireworks are illegal on public lands: every forest, every campsite, every day. Never light fireworks in the woods.
• Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained, with nothing dragging on the ground. A loose safety chain or dangling muffler can send a shower of sparks into dry vegetation.
• Keep vehicles off dry grass. The catalytic converter may contact the vegetation and start a fire.
• Always carry a shovel and fire extinguisher.
• Know before you go. Always check with your local Ranger Station prior to your trip to get the most up to date information on fire danger and fire restrictions for the area.
• It is best to preplan your route and share that information with people that are not on the hike with you. Having predetermined check-in points with reliable methods of communication are critical to let your friends and family know where you are should someone need to contact you.
Be cautious! Should you start a wildfire, even if it's by accident, you could be held liable for damages and firefighting costs.
If you see a wildfire, please call Central Idaho Dispatch Center at 208-756-5157 or 911 as soon as possible.
For current conditions call the Public Lands Center in Salmon at 208-756-5100 or call a local Ranger District office.
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