Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Just in

Southern Idaho braces for Wildfire Season 

Pocatello—The fire season will start later than usual according to the just released Wildland Fire Outlook Report.

The report says fireseason will be at least a 3-4 weeks late but it could be more dangerous than previous years because of heavy fuel load. The fire danger in eastern Idaho and across the Snake River plain is low now because of flooding, rain and late season snow.

The fuel load could be double and triple the amount from previous years according to the report. That means once grass and brush dries out it could lead to an explosive fire season on the Idaho range and  forests.

"When fire season happens in eastern Idaho it’s going to happen quickly and with the fuel load we have here. Fires start real easy in the summer with lightning strikes and roadside starts and they get big fast," says Dan Zajanc of the Bureau of Land Management.

 Grasses will continue to grow as long as it keeps raining. For the first time in a decade Idaho has seen rain storms two to three times a week.

“There is a lot of growth out there, I know it looks pretty and people are sick of winter, but the grass is tall and most of the weeds and grasses that are growing. All that will dry up fast if the temperatures stay up. I think it looks dangerous, it really does,” said Karen Aguilar, Pocatello Valley Fire Chief. 

Idaho had one of its worst fire seasons last year with more than 250,000 acres burned. The BLM can’t predict the season but they say as soon as it drys out large wildfires are possible.

 "Some years we have all the potential in the world and don't get the ignition, it's a slow fire season and it's not a big deal,” Zajanc. “Some years we have those conditions and get a lot of starts.”

 The higher elevations where snow is still visible aren't expected to have big fires until August, but in the lower elevations fire experts expect things to dry out by mid-June for the start of fire season “I think about it all the time,” says Aguilar. “When it starts drying out like this and it's a beautiful day, but then I start thinking about what can happen and it keeps me awake sometimes.”

Historically less than half of wildfires in Idaho are caused by humans, but last year almost 88% of fires on BLM land were human caused. Fire officials are out this spring reminding homeowners to cut down bush, build firebreaks to make sure there’s defensible fire breaks around their homes, and on the property.

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