Wildfires

Idaho News
9:18 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Idaho Sues Timber Company Over Wildfire That Killed A Firefighter

Credit U.S. Forest Service

Idaho officials have filed a lawsuit against a timber company and its contractor contending they're responsible for a wildfire that killed a 20-year-old Forest Service firefighter and burned more than 300 acres in northern Idaho.

The Lewiston Tribune reports the state filed the lawsuit Monday in 2nd District Court seeking an unspecified amount in monetary damages for costs in fighting the fire.

Anne Veseth of Moscow died Aug. 12, 2012, after being struck and killed by a falling tree while fighting the Steep Corner Fire near Orofino.

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Wildfires
3:56 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Idaho Should Have 'Normal' Wildfire Season Thanks To Recent Storms

Last Summer's Beaver Creek Fire Threatened Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey
Credit 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.”

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Wildfire Budget
3:03 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Interior Secretary Jewell, Congressmen Visit Boise To Tout Wildfire Suppression Funding Overhaul

Gov. Butch Otter flanked by Sec. Sally Jewell, Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Mike Crapo, Sen. Jim Risch, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Raul Labrador.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

A coalition of Congressional Democrats and Republicans gathered in Boise Monday to tout a proposal that would change the way the federal government pays for firefighting operations in the West and beyond.   

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Sen. Mike Crapo, R-ID, Sen. Jim Risch, R-ID, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-ID, and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

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Wildfire Budget
1:27 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Congress Studies Budget Change For Wildfires

Gov. Butch Otter flanked by Sec. Sally Jewell, Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Mike Crapo, Sen. Jim Risch, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Rep. Raul Labrador.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

A bipartisan effort is underway in Congress to create a new way to pay for battling wildfires that prevents the diversion of money intended to reduce the size of such fires.

Lawmakers from Oregon and Idaho met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Monday to discuss the budget reform.

President Obama's proposed budget seeks a change in the long-standing method of funding the fight against the most catastrophic wildfires.

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Public Land
10:00 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Wildfire Rehab Closes Some Public Areas In Southern Idaho

The Elk Complex burned through thousands of acres in August 2013.
Credit Ashley Smith / Times-News

The Bureau of Land Management has closed about 54,000 acres northeast of Mountain Home in southern Idaho to all entry until April 30 in an effort to rehabilitate areas scorched by two wildfires.

The agency tells the Idaho Statesman that the area will also be closed year-round to motorized use for up to three years.

Officials say the closures are needed to protect key sage grouse habitat and crucial winter habitat for mule deer and elk.

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Wildfires
5:41 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Obama Backs Northwest Senators' Plan To Fund Firefighting Like Disaster Aid

The Beaver Creek Fire near Sun Valley, Idaho, covered more than 100,000 acres in 2013.
Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 8:22 am

Fighting wildfires would be funded more like hurricane and flood response under a proposal out of the Northwest that won President Obama's endorsement.

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Wildfires
11:44 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Sen. Crapo Says Changing Wildfire Fighting Budget Formula Is ‘Critical’ Issue

The costs of fighting wildfires in the U.S. often exceed allotted budgets. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) says the federal government needs to overhaul its funding system.
Credit Boise National Forest

Republican Sen. Mike Crapo says he expects wildfire funding legislation he introduced just before Christmas to get bipartisan support in Washington.

Crapo and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, introduced the legislation on December 19. If approved, it would bolster funding for the U.S. Forest Service.

At issue is the agency’s firefighting budget, which is regularly exhausted before a wildfire season ends. Funds from other parts of the agency’s budget are then used to cover additional costs. That money often comes from fire prevention budgets, which can make future fires worse.

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Wildfires
8:16 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Scientists Use Computer Models To Help Blaine County Residents After Beaver Creek Fire

This Google Earth map shows where six precipitation gauges will be placed this spring.
Credit Courtesy of the Idaho Water Science Center / USGS

The Beaver Creek wildfire burned 174-square-miles in August and threatened Ketchum and Hailey. After the fire, torrential rains sent mud and rocks down burned mountainsides. Debris hit homes and covered roads.

“Some of these debris flows were 20 to 30 feet thick,” recalls Dave Evetts. He’s the assistant director for hydrologic data at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Idaho Water Science Center in Boise.

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Policy
10:08 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Hailey, Idaho Bans Cedar-Shake Shingles To Prevent Wildfire Damage

Credit WSilver / Flickr Creative Commons

The Hailey City Council has voted to prohibit the use of cedar-shake shingles on rooftops in the wake of last summer's large wildfire.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports the council made the decision early last week.

The new rule exceeds the Wildland Urban Interface Code by prohibiting cedar-shake shingles entirely.

The 170-squre-mile Beaver Creek fire destroyed one home and threatened hundreds of others until it was contained in early September.

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Environment
10:56 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Why The Government Shutdown Increased Idaho’s Wildfire And Flood Danger

This mudslide last month was on land burned by the Elk Complex fire. It took out a section of road and ended in the South Fork Boise River.
Credit Mountain Home Ranger District / fs.usda.gov

Federal employees are scrambling to catch up on things left undone for nearly three weeks. That’s after tens of thousands of workers were furloughed during the partial government shutdown, which ended last Thursday.

But on Idaho’s public lands, some work can’t be caught up. The shutdown's timing was particularly bad for wildfire prevention and rehabilitation.

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Environment
4:22 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

Is Living With Extreme Wildfires The New Normal?

A house destroyed by a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz. Experts say increasing expansion into wildfire-prone areas has created new challenges for firefighters unequipped to protect houses and structures.
Andy Tobin AP

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 3:02 pm

It has been a deadly year for the people who fight wildfires. In total, 32 people have lost their lives fighting fires in 2013; the highest number in nearly 20 years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Just one incident accounts for most of those deaths, the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona. In June, the blaze blasted through a firefighting crew known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots; 19 of the 20 men died.

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Wildfires
1:58 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Why The Beaver Creek Fire Will Leave Lasting Landscape Effects

A Burned Area Emergency Response team member examines a channel after the Beaver Creek Fire moved through.
Credit Sawtooth National Forest / InciWeb

The Beaver Creek Fire moved through 174 square miles of land in August, threatening communities in the Wood River Valley.

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Environment
9:30 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Conservation Plan Aims To Restore Idaho's Big Wood River

The Big Wood River flowing near Ketchum, Idaho.
Credit GHarness / Flickr Creative Commons

Trout Unlimited and the Wood River Land Trust have announced a plan to restore the Big Wood River in central Idaho.

The partnership announced last week and called the Big Wood River Home Rivers Initiative is described as a long-term effort to reconnect tributaries, promote fish passage and maintain stream flows.

Scott Boettger of the Wood River Land Trust says summer wildfires followed by mudslides combined with low flows and increased water temperatures are timely reminders of the challenges the Big Wood faces.

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Wildfires
9:47 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Wildfire Report Pushes For Better Community Planning In Idaho’s Wildland-Urban Interface

Credit U.S. Forest Service

The 2012 wildfire season went down as one of the most active in Idaho’s history. It was an expensive year too, with more than $211 million spent to suppress fires that burned 1.75 million acres.

According to a new report by Jonathan Oppenheimer of the Idaho Conservation League, there are some valuable lessons imbedded in those stats.

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Mudslides
2:20 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Mudslides Close Roads In Elmore County, Idaho

Authorities say both lanes of U.S. Highway 20 north of Mountain Home have reopened following a mudslide.

Authorities tell KTVB-TV that mud on Thursday closed one lane of the route that carries traffic from Boise to the central Idaho resort area of Ketchum and Sun Valley.

The mudslide occurred between Cow Creek Road and Anderson Ranch Dam Road.

Elmore County dispatchers say one person had to be rescued after a rainstorm on Thursday caused rocks and mud to slide onto roadways.

Recreation
7:58 pm
Sun September 8, 2013

After The Beaver Creek Fire, Anglers Are Forced To Cast Their Lines Elsewhere

The muddied Warm Springs Creek (left) meets the Big Wood River (right) near Ketchum.
Credit Steve Dondero

Warm Springs Creek is a clean and beautiful tributary of the Big Wood River in Blaine County. The creek is also a great spot for fly-fishing.

Well...normally.

But after the 174-square-mile Beaver Creek Fire was officially contained last week, heavy rain and thunderstorms moved through. That storm and the continued rain that followed brought mud, ash and debris down the mountain – and into Warm Springs Creek and the Big Wood River.

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Wildfire Season
3:34 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Video: 2013 Wildfire Season Burns Fewer Acres, Leaves Deeper Scars

A stunning image of a burnout operation on the Little Queens fire in Idaho. The blaze forced evacuations in the historic town of Atlanta.
Credit Boise National Forest

People in the West are breathing some cleaner air these days, after a summer of dangerous and smoky wildfires.

As the wildfire season begins to wind down, Ken Frederick at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise looked into this question: how does this summer's fire season stack up against prior ones? Frederick decided to tackle the topic through a short and info-packed video.

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Wildfires
1:10 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Rain Helps Crews Gain Ground On Idaho Wildfires

Credit U.S. Forest Service

Rain across much of southwestern and central Idaho's mountains put a dent in wildfires that have kept firefighters busy for weeks.

On the Weiser Complex Fire along the Snake River's Brownlee Reservoir, Wednesday's moisture bolstered crews' confidence about making significant progress toward containing the blaze that's charred some 40 square miles.

And in central Idaho near Featherville, similar downpours helped firefighters gain ground and more aggressively push back the Kelley Fire, which has burned about 26 square miles.

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Flash Floods
4:02 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Flash Flood Warning In Effect For Parts Of Fire-Ravaged Blaine County

Credit Mel Meier / InciWeb

The Beaver Creek Fire burned more than 174 square miles and endangered the towns of Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley last month. The once-enormous blaze is fully contained.

But residents in the area now have to be on alert for another danger: flash floods and mudslides over the charred land. The Times-News reports that 18 inches of mud came into the Croy Creek Canyon area overnight.

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Flooding
10:10 am
Tue September 3, 2013

After Fire, Idaho Forecasters Warn Of Flash Flooding

National Weather Service warned Idaho residents traveling or recreating on National Forest lands to be wary of possible flash flooding, as recent wildfires have scorched what ordinarily would have been rain-sopping vegetation from hillsides.

A flash flood watch goes into effect at midnight and continues through Tuesday on Boise National Forest areas burned by the massive Elk, Pony and Little Queens fires.

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