Hikers, hunters and campers beware: The five northern counties of Idaho will see 4,800 acres of forest go up in prescribed burns during the next few weeks.
“It’s really important for hunters and campers to check our website before going out into the forest,” Forest Service Public Affairs Officer Jason Kirchner told the Coeur d'Alene Press
. “A couple years ago we had a close call with a hunter who didn’t see our warning signs.”
Kirchner said the hunter somehow got beyond the Forest Service’s warning signs posted around areas where the prescribed burn was set to take place. The hunter was inside the burn area when the fire was ignited by helicopter. The hunter made it out unharmed, but Kirchner said it could have been disastrous.
The Forest Service uses prescribed burns to reduce dead and downed fuels and selectively thin understory trees in dense forested stands. The agency issued a press release on Sept. 6, stating the fall weather conditions are now ideal for controlled burns. Once the fire is ignited, it burns for two or three days before rain or snow extinguishes it.
Kirchner said there are 17 areas on the list, but he doesn’t expect they’ll be able to burn all of them in one season.
USFS warns that burned areas are dangerous even after the fire goes out, with unpredictable spreading of flames, falling trees, heavy smoke and rolling rocks and logs.