A new University of Idaho study says human-caused climate change is the reason more of the forest is burning each year in the West.

Researchers at U of I and Columbia University found that, because of climate change, the amount of land burned in Western forest fires has nearly doubled in the last 30 years.

National Weather Service

With rain in the forecast, the National Weather Service in Boise is warning of the possibility of flash flooding and mudslides in the 294 square miles burned by the Pioneer Fire.

A low pressure system could bring up to a half inch of rain Thursday to parts of the Boise National Forest that were burned by the Pioneer Fire. While that could slow the still-burning blaze down, it could also bring flash flooding.


The Wildland Fire Leadership Council is meeting for the first time in Boise. The national committee was created in 2002, and includes officials from different national and state firefighting agencies. They meet regularly, often not leaving Washington D.C.

Wednesday, the group is getting a chance to see the effects of wildfire in the Great Basin firsthand.

Boise National Forest

The Pioneer Fire grew dramatically this week, shooting its way through the Boise National Forest. In just two days, it burned more than 70 square miles. So far it has burned 281 square miles.

Despite more than 1,000 people working the fire, it's only 52 percent contained. And officials say it won't be under control until a major rain or snow event, probably sometime in October.

Why is it burning so fast? And so much? And why can't firefighters surround it? This video, from the Boise National Forest, gives a pretty good snapshot of what crews are facing on this megafire:

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

KBSX reporter Frankie Barnhill visited base camp at the Pioneer Fire on Aug. 27 to profile Type 1 Incident Commander Beth Lund. Adam Cotterell asks her about the experience, including what's up with the women's only porta potties, what to eat at fire camp, and how to earn "trail cred" in wildland firefighting.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Beth Lund starts her day long before most people are done dreaming.

At 5 a.m., she’s out of her tent – coffee in hand – getting ready for a 6:00 a.m. briefing with her team at fire camp in Idaho City. Over the hum of generators, Lund takes the microphone on a wooden platform and addresses about 50 firefighters.

“Well, good morning," Lund says. "I see the group out here’s dwindling a little bit. So I think that’s a sign that some of this stuff on the southern end is getting wrapped up.”

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Last year’s massive Soda Fire burned more than 400 square miles of rangeland in southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon. That includes the food source for the area's three wild horse herds.


Three U.S. Senators were in Boise Monday to restate their support of legislation that would overhaul the way the nation pays for its biggest wildfires.

Senators Mike Crapo, R-ID, Jim Risch, R-ID, and Ron Wyden, D-OR, visited the National Interagency Fire Center for the third time in support of the proposal. 

National Interagency Fire Center/Facebook

When fire activity goes up, MAFFS (Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems) go into action. Right now, two DoD C-130 planes, equipped with this unique fire suppression system, are flying out of Boise.

The planes were called up by the National Interagency Fire Center. You may have seen the giant planes launching over Boise or video from an air drop over a wildfire. We found video of another side of MAFFS: Cleaning out the pipes before bringing on another load of retardant.

Mike McMillan / inciweb.gov

Update Monday at 8:02 a.m.: An evacuation notice for  the town of Lowman that was downgraded yesterday has been raised back up.

The Boise County Sheriff yesterday evening re-implemented a level two evacuation for Lowman after having lowered it to a level one one earlier in the day. Level two is still a voluntary evacuation. The heightened alert comes after winds pushed the Pioneer fire further north.


As hot and dry summer weather continues, land officials hope expanded Stage 1 fire restrictions will keep new human-caused wildfires to a minimum. Parts of Twins Falls, Blaine, Camas and Cassia counties will be affected. Campfires must be within designated campground or other recreation sites, and outdoor smoking will also be limited.



The Pioneer fire. a southwest Idaho wildfire burning timber in rugged terrain, on Thursday crossed a state highway fire officials had hoped to use as a firebreak.

Officials say the 20-square-mile blaze burning west to east crossed State Highway 21 about 5 miles south of Lowman.

About 23 miles of the highway are closed from north of Idaho City to south of Lowman.

Fire spokeswoman Susan Blake says ground crews and engines are responding to the area east of the highway where the fire crossed.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

A brush fire near a housing development in Eagle was attacked quickly by firefighters earlier this week. They were able to battle the spark in part because of fire preventive measures taken by the developers who built the Avimor neighborhood.

Attempts by 900 firefighters backed by aircraft to halt the spread of a wildfire burning in rugged terrain in southwest Idaho have been unsuccessful with the blaze doubling to 14 square miles in size on Wednesday.

Officials say they've expanded a closure in the Boise National Forest and also started contingency plans to use State Highway 21 as a firebreak.

About 23 miles of the highway are closed from north of Idaho City to south of Lowman as firefighters remove trees and brush to reduce the potential for the fire to cross the road.


Officials closed a portion of State Highway 21 in both directions in southwest Idaho on Tuesday due to a 7-square-mile wildfire burning trees, brush and grass in rugged terrain.

Fire managers gave no timeline for when the highway might reopen as some 850 firefighters backed by aircraft work on fire lines to contain the blaze that started July 18.

The highway is closed from east of Idaho City to north of Lowman as firefighters prep the area for defensive operations.

Andrew Xu / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal authorities say they've launched the first national system intended to prevent hobby drones from interfering with planes and helicopters fighting wildfires.

The U.S. Interior Department announced the kickoff of the pilot project Monday. It uses smartphone apps already on the market to quickly alert drone fliers to temporary flight restrictions over wildfires.

Ada County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

Update, Thursday at 5:21 p.m.: Fire crews have reached 80 percent containment on the Mile Marker 14 fire.

Update, Thursday at 10:38 a.m.: The latest tweet from BLM Idaho shows progress is being made in containing the fire: 

Boise Fire Department / Twitter

Wildlife habitat managers say it’s essential that the area burned by the Table Rock fire in the Boise foothills be restored to prevent invasive species from taking over. The City of Boise already has $100,000 from the Zoo Boise conservation fund for habitat rehabilitation in the burn scar. But the city has very little expertise rehabbing land.

Krista Muller / Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Last week’s Table Rock fire burned about 2,500 acres in Boise’s foothills. Although the fire only destroyed one human home, animals that live there will likely go elsewhere until the landscape can be restored.

Idaho Fish and Game wildlife biologist Krista Muller says Table Rock will not bounce back in just a couple of years.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

The Ada County Sheriff says in less than 24 hours over the Fourth of July holiday, his dispatch office received 235 fireworks complaints and 33 reports of grass fires.

Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan says at least 12 fires in Boise were likely caused by fireworks over the Monday holiday. And the Table Rock Fire in the Boise Foothills last week, which burned a home, was caused by illegal fireworks. The Nampa Fire Marshal says illegal fireworks likely burned down a home Tuesday morning.