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Central Idaho fire danger upgraded to 'extreme'

The Extreme danger rating indicates fires can start and spread quickly and burn with high intensity. Campers are urged to be extremely careful.
Credit: Salmon-Challis National Forest/Inciweb
The Moose Fire July 17, 2022, on the Salmon-Challis National Forest near North Fork in Lemhi County, Idaho.

SALMON, Idaho — The Central Idaho Dispatch Zone has moved to Extreme Fire Danger, officials with the Salmon-Challis National Forest announced on Tuesday, July 26. People on camping, hiking or off-roading trips are urged to be mindful about actions that could cause a wildfire.

The Central Idaho Dispatch Zone includes portions of Custer County north and east of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area excluding the Frank Church River of No Return and Jim McClure-Jerry Peak wilderness areas. It also includes Lemhi County. The portion of Lemhi County that's not on federal land designated as wilderness is in Stage 1 Fire Restrictions.

At least two large wildfires are burning in that area: the Moose Fire southwest of North Fork and the Woodtick Fire west of Challis.

In Extreme fire danger, fires start and spread quickly and burn with high intensity; small fires can quickly become large and difficult to control.

Under Stage 1 restrictions, the following are prohibited:

  • Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or stove fire except within a designated recreation site, or on your own land, and only within an owner-provided fire structure. Campfires are allowed only in sites with metal/concrete fire pits.
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle, building or designated recreation site, or while stopped within an area at least 3 feet in diameter that's barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

Salmon-Challis N.F. public affairs officer Amy Baumer advises that it's your job and responsibility to maintain and extinguish all campfires. Also:

  • Never leave a campfire unattended. If it's too hot to touch, it's too hot to leave. Add water, stir the ashes and make sure all embers are out.
  • 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. The use of exploding targets is not allowed on National Forest System lands in Idaho.
  • Refrain from smoking in wooded, grassy or brushy areas. Make sure your cigarette is fully out before leaving the area.
  • Fireworks are illegal on public lands. That includes every forest and every campsite.
  • Make sure your vehicle is maintained and there's nothing dragging on the ground. A loose safety chain or dangling muffler can send sparks into dry vegetation. Keep vehicles off dry grass.
  • Always carry a shovel and fire extinguisher.
  • Check with your local ranger station before heading out on your trip to get the most up-to-date information on fire danger and fire restrictions. Current conditions on the Salmon-Challis National Forest are also listed here.
  • Unmanned aircraft -- drones -- should not be flown near or around wildfires. (More information about the use of unmanned aircraft on National Forest System lands.)

Anyone who starts a wildfire, even by accident, may be held liable for damages and the cost of fighting the fire.

To report a wildfire, call Central Idaho Dispatch Center at 208-756-5157 or 911 as soon as possible.

To report a wildfire in southwest Idaho, call 208-384-3400. In South Central Idaho, call 208-886-2373.

Watch more on wildfires in the West:

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