As Idaho gears up what is certain to be a challenging 2013 fire season, federal and state officials continue to point to citizen prevention as their greatest weapon in the firefight.
Bob Shindelar, Fire Chief for the Boise National Forest, estimates Idaho is 4-6 weeks ahead of the normal fire season, which, according to the chief, “Will prolong the fire season for us here in Idaho.”
Despite Idaho’s short delay, the number one type of forest fire in Idaho is human-caused.
“It’s important that the public take all precautions when going out into the woods,” Shindelar said.
In order to combat these human-caused fires, restrictions will be put in place earlier this year than in previous years. Restrictions on charcoal barbeques at dispersed campgrounds and enforcing prohibition on the use of exploding targets on public land will prevent fires from spreading due to open flames and ricocheted target pieces.
In addition to prevention in the field, fire manager for the Boise District BLM Andy Delmas encourages homeowners near open land to take active steps to protect their communities from fire.
“If people can break out the weed-eaters, clean around their houses, and clear the brush, we can mitigate those fires and make them smaller,” said Delmas.
Residents are also encouraged to seed more fire-resistant plants.
“The chances of preventing property damage are very good for neighborhoods that have plants with higher salt content,” Pam Hess, a representative of the BLM state office, told the Boise Weekly.
More fire-resistant plants are low-growing and have a high moisture content, which prevents them from easily catching fire.
“It is going to be a busy fire season, and people not taking proper precautions is what’s causing these fires, so we really need the public’s help,” Delmas said.