Fire Safety

Lafe / Flickr

In the run up to the Fourth of July, fireworks are now on sale at licensed stands. With the memory of last summer’s Table Rock Fire still fresh, officials are asking people to be mindful of where they detonate their pyrotechnics.

The Table Rock Fire scorched four square miles of the Boise foothills and burned destroyed one home last year; it started with an illegal Roman candle.

Even so-called “safe and sane” fireworks can start wildfires and present a danger if set off improperly or in areas close to accelerants like fuel or dried brush.

Screen grab from YouTube user Unstoppabull 360

Fourth of July revelers traveling up the Highway 55 corridor will encounter a few changes at popular party spots this year.

The communities of McCall and Crouch are striving to offer visitors and residents a more family-friendly vibe.

In Crouch, the tradition of setting off fireworks in city center was started for a good reason: to draw the celebration away from wildfire-prone lands nearby.

But escalating debauchery over the years has spurred the city to lean away from a party that's become known as 'Chaos in Crouch.'

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

Historic Idaho City is dealing with the loss of five businesses just as its lucrative summer tourism season was getting underway. Officials say a fire started in Calamity Jane’s restaurant on Main Street sometime before 3 a.m. Friday. By the time firefighters extinguished the flames, most of a city block was ruined along with four other businesses. 

Nikos Koutoulas / Flickr

Firefighters say nearly $100,000 of alfalfa went up in flames Thursday after a large stack spontaneously combusted in Twin Falls.

Rock Creek Fire District spokesman Taylor Hunsaker says the stack, which was made of 480 tons of hay, will burn for almost a week.

Craig Giles, who grew the alfalfa, says he hired a custom operator to bale it. He says the bales were stacked with enough distance between them to allow moisture and heat to escape.

The federal government is already predicting this fire season will push firefighting resources almost $500 million over budget.

InciWeb / http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3635/

It's still at least three months away, but it looks as though Idaho’s wildfire season should be fairly normal in 2014. Ed Delgado manages predictive services at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

“We’ve got good snowpack right now and assuming it melts off fairly regularly over the next couple of months, that’s going to be good for the soils especially in the mountain areas,” Delgado says. “So that’s going to kind of prolong the wet period.”

Boise National Forest

The U-S Forest Service is reversing its policy to aggressively fight all wildfires. This change was announced in a letter from Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last month.

In May 2012, Forest Service Deputy Chief Jim Hubbard issued a "fight all fire" directive. This may be why the feds spent more than $1 billion fighting fires last year. They came in $400 million over budget.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

An Idaho legislative committee Tuesday approved a bill to encourage teams of ranchers who would volunteer to fight rangeland fires. 

The first rangeland fire protection association in Idaho formed a year ago in Mountain Home. It allows ranchers to help fight fires alongside firefighters with the Bureau of Land Management.

U.S. Forest Service

Wildland firefighting has always been dangerous but new standards in the last few decades have made fatalities rare. So it was news when a 20-year-old wildland firefighter was killed six months ago in northwest Idaho. Now several government investigations into the death of Anne Veseth are coming out. The first one finds Veseth died under hazardous conditions that could have been avoided. 

Boise National Forest

The Karney Fire has burned more than 400 acres 10 miles northeast of Boise.  Many in the Wilderness Ranch subdivision have been advised to evacuate their homes as the fire gets closer.  Residents there live close to nature, close enough that wildfires are a threat they try to guard against. 

Wilderness Ranch bills itself as the best of both worlds. Mother Nature in the back yard. The city, in this case Boise, a short drive away.  But living in nature means living with the risk of wildfires. 

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Friday two dozen high school students from the Treasure Valley will present research they’ve done as part of a summer science program. Their research helps government agencies make wildfire decisions.

Bailey Maier displays a poster featuring maps of the World Center for Birds of Prey. They show what plants grow where. Maier points to one map heavily shaded in red. It’s cheatgrass she says. The red is where the invasive weed grows in heavy concentration.