Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The day before his new exhibit opening in downtown Boise, Giuseppe Licari takes a break from building his installation. Licari sits in the courtyard behind Ming Studios sipping an espresso as he takes a puff of his cigarette. As it turns out, the Sicilian-born artist is kind of obsessed with smoke – and what it means for a landscape. 

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.”


It’s not clear yet what started the Cherry Road Fire Sunday afternoon. But what is clear is that dry brush and grass have fueled the flames, making for quickly changing conditions between Sunday and Monday.  

The fire is near the Idaho border, and has blown smoke into the Treasure Valley. A Type 2 firefighting team is now working to get control of the fire, which is threatening the popular Succor Creek State Park. 

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Think of it as a giant bubble filled with wildfire smoke.


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. 

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Ada County commissioners have dashed one man's hopes of having his own airstrip in the city's foothills.

The Idaho Statesman reports the commissioners voted 2-1 on Wednesday to overturn a Planning and Zoning decision that would have allowed Dean Hilde to build the 1,200-foot landing strip on about 150 acres as well as a 3,600-square-foot hangar and shop.


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.


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.

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Update, Thursday, 10:12 a.m.:  The Ada County Commissioners have tabled the issue after hearing three hours of public testimony. According to a press release, 16 people testified in favor of the airstrip and 15 testified against it Wednesday night.

Original post:

IIP Photo Archive / Flickr Creative Commons

Update, 7:25 p.m.: A federal firefighter injured in a fire-truck crash that killed two other crew members on a remote highway in Nevada is expected to survive.

The Nevada Highway Patrol says tire failure may have caused the truck to crash Sunday while the three were returning to Winnemucca from a search for lightning-sparked wildfires near the Oregon line.

Trooper Jim Stewart says both victims were from Winnemucca. He identified them as Jacob Omalley, the 27-year-old driver, and Will Hawkins, a 22-year-old passenger.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Most trails on Table Rock and in other areas burned by last week's big fire re-opened early this week. But biologists who will help oversee the area's restoration are concerned that off-trail use in the area could complicate those rehabilitation efforts.

Penn State / Flickr Creative Commons

State and federal officials say Idaho faces an increased potential for rangeland wildfires in the south, but forested areas in the north are in better shape at this point than last year.

Wildland fire analyst Jeremy Sullens of the National Interagency Fire Center told the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday that a good snowpack has put more moisture in northern Idaho forests to delay the fire season.

But he says additional moisture in the southern part of the state has led to an increase in grasses that could fuel rangeland fires.

An official at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise say there are no plans right now to send resources to Canada to help fight wildfires burning in Alberta.

National Interagency Fire Center

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has released its latest fire predictions for 2016.

Wildfire officials say southern Idaho could see above normal fire activity in July and August, while El Nino rains and warmer temperatures in the late spring and early summer could lead to lots of fuels. Lush grasses in May and June should dry by July, increasing the potential for rangeland wildfires. 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has awarded the Andrus Center for Public Policy $500,000 to host a series of workshops about rangeland wildfire with officials from all levels of government across the West. The workshops will try and figure out the best ways to reduce the size and severity of costly wildfires.

Part of the grant money will be used to focus on land conservation and rehab after big fires. Boise State University public policy professor John Freemuth will head up the project.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National forecasters predict an El Nino year. Climate experts say the storms are likely to be as strong as the El Nino 18 years ago, and people in the arid southwest are already dealing with above-average precipitation.

But in Idaho, scientists say the Gem State is in for another hot and dry year.

John Abatzoglou is a climatologist at the University of Idaho. He says El Nino in Idaho typically brings below normal temperatures and less precipitation, and another year like 2015 is not good news for the northern part of the state.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The smoke blanketing Boise from the Walker Fire near Idaho City eased up Wednesday but was still bad enough for the Boise School District to cancel outdoor activities like football games and tennis matches.

Someone flying into Boise Tuesday shared the pictures above with KBSX. Much of the valley floor is invisible under a gray/brown haze. 

Boise's Table Rock was a dim outline at about 9:00 Tuesday morning. It was a little clearer around the same time Wednesday morning from outside our studios.

Idaho Department of Lands

A wildfire burning 40 miles northeast of Boise is moving away from structures, but continues to pour smoke into the Treasure Valley.

The 2,500-acre Walker Fire started Saturday on private property near Grimes Creek and Mack Creek. The fire is suspected to be human caused.

Burning eight miles southwest of Idaho City in Boise County, the fire has destroyed four structures, including three cabins.

The Idaho Department of Lands says some areas are still under evacuation:

Stuart Rankin / Flickr Creative Commons

This year's catastrophic wildfire season has required more than 1 million gallons of fire retardant from the Boise Air Tanker Base, marking it the highest retardant delivery season the base has seen in nearly two decades.

Officials announced Tuesday that the base has typically delivered around 821,500 gallons over the past 10 years. However, the highest delivery year was in 1994, where firefighters pumped more than 1.6 million gallons of retardant into air tankers from the base.