BOISE, Idaho — As temperatures continue to heat up, a lot of vegetation is drying out around the region -- and grass and brush become potential fuel for wildfires.
Firefighters around Idaho are gearing up for what some say could be a very active fire season.
"It's really important when you go out and recreate to really pay attention to any fire restrictions in place and also do a little bit of research on what you need to do out there and be safe in regards to starting any wildfires," said Jared Jablonski with the Bureau of Land Management's Boise District.
About 75-85% of fires the Boise District of the BLM responds to are human-caused. In 2020, there were 138 human-caused wildfires that burned a total of 44,010 acres, and 39 lightning-caused wildfires that burned a total of 16,137 acres, according to the BLM.
"Anytime we have a human-caused fire, that can divert our resources to some of the other fires that might be going on due to natural causes like lightning," Jablonski said.
Jablonski said fire crews have already responded to several fires in just the last 10 days, and expect things to get even busier closer to the Fourth of July.
Considering how much vegetation is already starting to dry out, fire crews say the potential to have an active summer is high.
Jablonski explains when vegetation is fully dried out it becomes highly flammable and ignites easily.
Safety tips are given out each year about using caution and being mindful while out on public lands, but here is another reminder from the U.S. Forest Service:
- 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? Take precautions! Never shoot into dry vegetation, and always make sure you’re shooting in a safe location. Be aware that the use 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 your car or truck off of dry grass. The catalytic converter may contact the grass 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 plan your route before your trip, and share that information with people who are not going on the trip with you. Having predetermined check‐in points with reliable methods of communication is critical to let your friends and family know where you are, should someone need to contact you.
"Anytime we can reduce human-caused fires that helps us out in the overall end picture, as well," Jablonski said.
The Boise Bureau of Land Management currently has a fire prevention order in effect until Oct. 20.
It prohibits the use of fireworks, incendiary ammunition, tracer ammunition, steel component ammunition, exploding targets and shooting at steel targets on public lands. If caught, people could be cited.
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