Wildfire experts in Boise say the upcoming summer wildfire season could be significant in the Gem State. But that's to be expected, given a suite of environmental and climactic factors.
“It’s going to be a significant fire season in the West; it almost always is," says Jeremy Sullens with the National Interagency Fire Center. "The snowpack and the fine fuel crop are really going to help amplify that this year.”
Sullens says there’s an above normal chance for significant wildfire in July and August – and says southern Idaho is particularly susceptible because of additional rangeland grass and forest undergrowth that's been building over the last few years. That means wildland firefighters will likely be dousing blazes in both the Great Basin and some Gem State forests simultaneously.
“On top of the timber fire season, we expect there to be a significant range fire season based on that carryover grass and whatever new input there is,” Sullens says.
He notes northern Idaho is in a slightly better position, but that doesn't mean it's immune from burning this summer.
“That’s the nature of living out here: We are going to have a fire season. And everywhere is going to have fire activity.”
At a recent briefing at the National Interagency Fire Center, Sullens pointed to a map that shows the concentration of bright red fire activity moving from the Southwest to the Northwest between June and August, but the action isn't just contained to the summer months.
“We’ve talked a lot about fire season, but anymore what we talk about is a fire year.”
NIFC will put out an update to the report June 1, which will take into account the latest drought and weather information. The agency helps coordinate resources and collaboration between federal agencies during wildland fire fights.
Last year, wildfire costs exceeded a record $2 billion nationwide – and killed dozens of people – including 14 wildland firefighters.
Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
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