Wildfires

U.S. Forest Service

Smoky skies, from dozens of western wildfires, have prompted the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to issue an air quality advisory for the entire state of Idaho.

Such advisories are typically issued for individual counties or cities.

Boise National Forest

Dozens of large wildfires are burning uncontained this week across several Western states. With so many fires, there are not nearly enough resources to go around.  Now, military personnel are being brought in to help fight fires.

Inciweb

Forest Service researchers are taking a closer look at how wildfire smoke impacts the people most exposed to it. A five-year study will monitor the carbon monoxide levels of firefighters around the country.

Of the 15 large fires in Idaho, nine are burning in the northern part of the state. They run from the Canadian border south to the Nez-Perce-Clearwater National Forest, and fire officials say it’s unlike any season in the last century.

Crews from all across the country are fighting fires in Idaho. Most of the blazes started from lightning strikes last week. The Idaho Panhandle National Forest’s spokesperson, Jay Kirchner, says this year is record breaking.

kt.ries / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal authorities have announced a plan to produce massive quantities of seeds from native plants so they can be quickly planted to help the land recover from natural disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes.

The U.S. Department of the Interior said Monday that the program will make landscapes more resilient and healthier, especially Western rangelands where massive wildfires have been an increasing problem.

Boise National Forest/USFS

The National Interagency Fire Center is calling on 200 active-duty military troops to help fight roughly 95 wildfires burning across the West.

Officials with the Boise-based agency made the announcement Monday. The troops will begin training Wednesday and are expected to be ready for action Sunday. They will be mobilized for a month. NIFC officials say previous call-ups have included more soldiers, but that the smaller force will be ready sooner. 

This is the first time NIFC has mobilized active duty military members for fire suppression efforts since 2006.

s. Hellstrom / InciWeb

The Soda Fire along the Oregon border has burned 440 square miles. The majority of those miles is rangeland in Owyhee County and that’s bad news for ranchers. There could be long-term effects to ranchers in the area.

More than 26 percent of jobs in Owyhee County come from agriculture, two-thirds of which comes from livestock operations. There are 145,000 cows in the county — 36,000 of them are beef cattle.

U.S. Forest Service

This story was originally published on August 26, 2013.

Soda Fire Containment: More Than Halfway There

Aug 17, 2015
InciWeb

Governor Otter issued Owyhee County a disaster declaration Saturday afternoon to provide assistance to the communities that have been affected by the Soda Fire. 

With favorable weather conditions over the weekend, firefighters made headway to reinforce and secure containment lines and mop up unburned islands. The cooler temperatures and decreased winds bought crews time to look for potential problem areas in preparation for a cold front with wind gusts arriving Monday afternoon.

InciWeb

The Soda Fire has burned more than 400 square miles of sage brush and rangeland 40 miles west of Boise. It’s just eight miles from Jordan Valley.

Ranchers and farmers are building firebreaks to protect their property. Power poles have burned up, leaving some without power. Despite the danger, the communities throughout the area are coming together to help those in need.

Rocky Barker / Idaho Statesman

Firefighters across Idaho braced for tough conditions Friday with strong winds predicted along with temperatures around 100 degrees and dry lightning in the evening.

Fire managers say they've had some success putting in containment lines on the 340-square-mile Soda Fire in the southwest part of the state straddling the Oregon border. But containment is only 11 percent.

More than 400 firefighters are assigned to the blaze that's also drawn about a dozen aircraft.

Washington DNR

Lawmakers from Idaho and Oregon say they are renewing efforts to change the way the country pays to fight catastrophic wildfires, arguing that agencies should be using natural disaster dollars rather than money set aside for fire prevention.

Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch of Idaho and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon announced Wednesday that they are getting ready to pitch bipartisan legislation to Congress this fall.

Boise National Forest

A dozen aircraft and more than 130 firefighters are working to contain three central Idaho wildfires sparked by lightning before they become so large they'll be impossible to put out until the end of the fire season.

Boise National Forest officials on Wednesday say a 20-acre fire about 3 miles from Idaho City is the most concerning because it's in heavy timber and about a mile from a phone tower.

Spokesman David Seesholtz says a 66-acre fire near Pilot Peak is less worrisome because it's moved to the top of a ridge.

BLM

Authorities say a cyclist started a 73-acre wildfire in southwest Idaho by lighting his toilet paper on fire after taking a comfort break.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials say the cyclist stopped to defecate in a ravine in the Boise foothills on Wednesday afternoon. The man then lit the toilet paper on fire but lost control of the embers in the dry grass while trying to extinguishing the waste.

Firefighters contained the flames several hours later.

Kari Greer / Boise National Forest

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter says closing public access to some state forest lands amid wildfire concerns by private timberland owners is an option that has to be considered due to extreme fire danger this year.

Consultant Jim Riley on Tuesday told Otter and other members of the Idaho Land Board that a million acres of private land has been closed this year to the public due to potential wildfire.

Riley says the private owners are concerned about human-caused fires starting on state land and spreading to neighboring timber stands.

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