Idaho fire officials seek public cooperation during wildfires - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Idaho fire officials seek public cooperation during wildfires

BOISE. Idaho. - California currently is experiencing one of the worst fire seasons in the state's history.  Thousands of lightning strikes touched off vegetation wrought by drought and high temperatures, causing hundreds to evacuate their homes and businesses.  Last year, the Boise National Forest on July 17th kicked off a similar major fire event when fires eventually consumed over 200,000 acres, with numerous evacuation notices issued for mountain communities.

Although the wildand fire season has been relatively quiet in Idaho, recent record high temperatures are drying our rangelands just in time for summer lightning storms. The forests are also drying, particularly at the mid-elevation areas.  Typically, late July is the beginning of potential large fires in the west central Idaho Mountains.  Last year at this time, dry lightning storms ignited almost 100 fires throughout Idaho, which eventually burned over 2 million acres and contributed to the worst fire season Idaho had experienced since 1910.

"We need only look at what's happening in California to remind us of what can happen here in Idaho," said Leonard Wehking, Idaho BLM state fire management officer.

With the potential for a severe wildfire season ahead, Idaho wildland fire officials would like the public to be aware of the following tips, which will aid firefighters in fire suppression and in preventing life-threatening situations, especially during evacuation efforts:

         Knowing what to do in the event of a fast-moving wildland fire
         before smoke is in the air enables us to save lives, property and
         precious resources.

         If you see a wildfire in your area, call 911 and report what you
         see.  Be prepared to give the location of the fire, approximate
         size and anything that might be threatened in its path.

         Do not try to fight a wildfire unless trained to do so.  If you
         are fighting a wildfire on your property, please make contact with
         fire crews when they arrive.

         Parking along roads to watch a wildfire can interfere with
         firefighting efforts, especially if there are aircraft trying to
         drop retardant in the area or an evacuation is taking place.
         Also, firefighters often use roads and natural barriers to burn
         out ahead of the fire.

         If there are aircraft working on the fire, please stay at least a
         quarter of a mile away.

"Firefighters understand the public's desire to help," Wehking said. "However, the best way for people to aid in a fire suppression effort is to report fires, have an evacuation plan and leave the affected area as soon as possible if warranted or requested by officials."

"Many people may not realize that when they intervene in firefighting efforts, firefighters often stop fighting fire in order to remove citizens from a dangerous situation," according to Wehking.  "During the interim, the fire continues to spread.  Firefighters greatly appreciate the public's cooperation in following fire orders and in knowing what steps to take in the event of a wildfire.  This cooperation is a tremendous help to firefighters in getting the fire out and in keeping everyone safe."

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