Wildfire Officials Caution Idahoans to Take Personal Responsibility

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As Idaho agencies looked to the upcoming wildfire season in a press conference this morning, officials emphasized that Gem State residents should take what they called "personal responsibility."

“Second to lightning, human activities start the most fires,” said Emily Anderson, public information officer for the Idaho Department of Lands.

In 2011, the Boise District experienced 118 wildfires, 43 of which were caused by lightning. The other 75 were human-caused fires. The 10-year average for wildfires within the Boise District is 96 fires per year. The Boise District includes approximately 4 million acres of land from McCall to the Nevada border between Oregon and the Bruneau River.

“We may have an above-normal season for the southwest region of the state,” said Ed Delgado, services program manager at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

This year’s relatively mild winter and spring seasons allowed dry grass to remain standing instead of being flattened, increasing the risk of fast-spreading wildfires. Delgado also said he is anticipating a drier-than-usual summer, further adding to the risk.

“It has already been more active this year than last,” said Andy Delmas, fire management officer for the Bureau of Land Management. According to Delmas, area firefighters are already seeing more wildfires than usual for this early in the season.

Boise National Forest official demonstrates how to properly extinguish personal fire.
  • Tabitha Bower
  • Bob Shindelar, forest fire management officer for the Boise National Forest, demonstrates how to properly extinguish a personal fire.

Delmas stressed the importance of individuals taking responsibility to reduce fire risk around their own homes by removing dry vegetation. adding that burn permits are required for any burning in residential areas. Those who are issued burn permits will also be given guidelines for safe burning.

Another wildfire risk comes from mismanaged campfires on public land. Bob Shindelar, forest fire management officer for the Boise National Forest, explained how to properly build a fire–in a place clear of vegetation and with a rock or metal ring–as well as how to correctly put it out.

“Please do what you can to help us and make sure your campfires are put out properly,” Shindelar said.