Tuesday, July 27, 2021
 
 
Firefighters on Edge as Fires Start Near Stanley
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The 2013 Beaver Creek Fire wiped out lots of shade on trails like the Osberg trail near Baker Lake.
   
Saturday, July 3, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Federal and state land firefighters are urging the public to take every precaution to prevent human-caused wildfires this Fourth of July Weekend and beyond.

Continued drought and above-average temperatures through the remainder of the season have wildland firefighters on edge.

Four new fires started in the past couple days in the Sawtooth National Forest, including two near Stanley.

The Big Casino Fire, reported on Thursday, is three miles east of Stanley and estimated at a quarter-acre by mid-day Friday. The Rough Creek Fire, also reported Thursday, is east of Stanley and estimated to be 0.1 acres. Firefighters hope to control both by Monday, July 5.

The other two fires were reported in the Sawtooth National Forest’s Minidoka Ranger District—one in a campground.

The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook predicts that the potential for significant wildland fires will be above normal in the entire state of Idaho in July and August what with 80 percent of Idaho in a drought. And it will remain above normal in southern and central Idaho, where Sun Valley is located, through September.

Blaine County’s conditions are more extreme than anywhere in the state. The Idaho Department of Water Resources ordered 140 junior water users south of Bellevue to cease pumping groundwater this week because of the drought. And the City of Boise closed public pools during triple-digit temperatures for fear youngsters would burn their feet on the concrete.

Nick Nauslar of the National Interagency Fire Center based in Boise told reporters on Thursday that conditions ripe for wildfire are a month to two months ahead of schedule: “We’re essentially seeing near or peak values for fire danger right now.”

More than 1,900 human-caused wildfires have burned more than 500,000 acres in Idaho during the last three years. So far in 2021, more than 300 human-caused wildfires have burned more than 8,800 acres of land in the state.

Over the past 10 years wildfires have burned 675 homes and other structures in Idaho. To see how to create fire-resistant landscape, visit https://idahofirewise.org/

WHAT ABOUT FIREWORKS?

Fireworks burn at more than 2,000 degrees compared with a campfire that burns at less than 500 degrees. And wildfires started by fireworks tend to be near where people live so they can be very destructive fires, said Josh Harvey, Fire Management Bureau Chief for Idaho Department of Lands.

“We are currently facing the most challenging wildfire conditions we’ve seen in Idaho in a long time,” said Dennis Strange, State Fire Management Officer for the Bureau of Land Management. “The 4th of July holiday is a time when we often see an uptick in human-caused wildfires with lots of people spending time in the outdoors. We really need the public to take all steps possible to prevent human-caused wildfires because with these conditions wildfires may spread very quickly and could be very difficult to control.”  

Fireworks are prohibited on all lands managed by the Bureau of Land Managment, U.S. Forest Service and Department of Lands. Those who ignite fireworks on public lands could face fines and jail time and be responsible for paying the costs of suppressing wildfires the fireworks cause.

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions were implemented in Blaine, Camas and Custer counties on Friday, meaning campfires are not allowed outside of designated fire pits with metal fire rings in campgrounds maintained by the Forest Service.  

Additional fire restriction information is available at https://www.idahofireinfo.com/ or by calling 1-844-ID-FIRES.

According to Firewise, people should remove debris from their gutter and below any patio decks to protect their homes. Store firewood at least 30 feet away from the home.

Keep up with current wildfire activity in Idaho at https://www.idahofireinfo.com/ or https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

BLAINE COUNTY OUTLAWS EXPLOSIVE TARGETS

Blaine County’s Commissioners have passed an ordinance banning the use of explosive targets from May 1-Oct. 31.

That makes it illegal to shoot a projectile into or towards an explosive device—any item with contents under pressure that will create an incendiary reaction once hit by a projectile.

The county has suffered through two large wildfires in Muldoon Canyon caused by explosive targets in the past few years.

Blaine County is banning aerial fireworks this year, as are the cities of Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue and Sun Valley. That includes bottle rockets, sky rockets, firecrackers, mortars, Roman candles, fountains, ground spinners, missiles, smoke bombs, parachutes, sky flowers and sparklers.

As Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw says: “If it lights up, don’t light it up.”

Discharging any consumer-type firework is a misdemeanor punishable by fine.

Exempted are public shows such as Sun Valley Resort’s 4th of July show conducted by professional contracted pyrotechnicians with oversight by the Sun Valley Fire Department.

Also, Hailey’s community fireworks show organized by The Chamber at dusk Fourth of July.

Stage 1 fire restrictions have been implemented by the Sawtooth National Forest, including the Fairfield and Ketchum Ranger Districts, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and the Cassia, Albion, Black Pine and Sublett divisions on the Minidoka Ranger District.

Fires are prohibited except for those in a permanent metal or concrete stucture maintained by the Forest Service in campgrounds, a fully enclosed metal stove, a stove fueled by liquid petroleum fuels,  or sheepherder-type stove with a chimney at last five feet in length with a spark arrester with mesh screen.

Smoking is also prohibited unless in an enclosed vehicle, building or while in an area clear of flammable materials for at least three feet in diameter.

Fire danger on the Sawtooth National Forest is rated “Very High” right now, said Julie Thomas, public affairs officer for the forest. Those who do have campfires in permitted spaces are asked to make sure the campfire is cold to the touch before they leave and that their chains are not dragging down the highway.


 

 

 

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