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Eastern Idaho moves to very high fire danger

EASTERN IDAHO (KIFI) — The fire danger rating has been elevated to very high for the lowlands (desert area) and high for the highlands (higher elevations) in Eastern Idaho.

With record high temperatures across the area, conditions in the Eastern Idaho Interagency area are drying rapidly, and a fire may start easily, spread quickly and burn intensely.

Everyone is asked to practice heightened fire safety at all times.

As the Independence Day holiday approaches, visitors and local residents alike are reminded that fireworks are not permitted on public lands. Several local counties have also implemented bans, check with your local fire department for specific information in your area. Fireworks regulations play a critical role in fire prevention.

Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire personnel have responded to 32 fires this year, compared to just 9 in 2020. All but one of these fires were human caused. Abandoned campfires can quickly escalate into wildfires. Where campfires are allowed, it is extremely important that they are completely extinguished and cold to the touch before campers leave their site. If visitors choose to have a fire, they should ensure that they are prepared with plenty of water to douse, stir, feel, and repeat until the area is cold to the touch. Visitors should never leave a fire unattended and can be held liable for suppression costs if their campfire becomes a wildfire. During times of elevated fire danger, a campfire is not encouraged.

Fire managers use a variety of factors to determine fire danger ratings including the moisture content of grasses, shrubs and trees, projected weather conditions (including temperatures and possible wind events), and a fire’s ability to spread after ignition.

“We met with local land management agencies this week to discuss the criteria for going into restrictions,” Bureau of Land Management Fire Management Officer Joel Gosswiller said. “We have not reached the threshold for fire restrictions at this time; however, these conversations are held weekly and with the weather forecast we will likely be there soon.”

The National Weather Service has indicated hot and dry conditions will persist as the dominant trend in the coming weeks. These above average conditions have stressed vegetation in the local area, accelerating seasonal drying. They have combined to increase the potential for fire activity across the Eastern Interagency Fire area.

With the extraordinary number of visitors in the area it is vital that everyone remain vigilant and have a plan. Be prepared with water and a shovel to extinguish your campfire. Do not park on tall grass as that grass can ignite when in contact with a hot vehicle. If trailering, ensure that your chains are clear of the ground as small sparks could start roadside fires. If you come across an abandoned campfire and it is within your power, please put it out and contact Eastern Interagency Dispatch to report its location.

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